I’ve worked directly and intimately with Common Core standards in a large urban school district. My problem with them isn’t that they exist, it’s how assessment occurs, and determining what test scores actually tell us.
They’re all attached at the hip though.
Broad curriculum standards lend themselves to broad, standardized testing measures. Standardizing tests means a lot of students are going to take them. That requires a whole lot of grading. And when a whole lot of tests need to be graded, they’re going to end up being sit-down-and-fill-in-these-bubbles-for-a-long-time affairs that can be placed into machines for assessment. Does this test a student’s love of learning? Their desire to be a lifelong learner? Their love of reading? And don’t we want those things to be a part of a “quality education” for our children?
Broad, standardized testing measures also introduce a whole lot of variables into play that might not have been considered before. For example, a student’s zip code, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (and I know “zip code” and “socioeconomic status” can be a bit redundant) can be used to predict their scores on standardized tests with alarming accuracy. So what happens when we use these tests as the primary determining factor for whether students are learning within schools? What are we really finding out when we analyze these results on a large scale?
Common Core standards sound like a great idea, and may seem like they’re a way to improve education, but figuring out how to assess educational outcomes using them is really difficult, complex, and ultimately may not tell us what we think it’s telling us.