Common Core’s not-so-common benefits

Nayaba Arinde | 8/15/2013, 11:11 a.m. | Updated on 8/15/2013, 11:11 a.m.

Parents citywide questioned the test from the beginning, and many balked when their year-round, normally high-scoring students “failed” the state’s standardized tests. Education experts have denounced the test-taking program for teachers having to solely rely on these high-stakes tests to determine promotion, and the fact that the majority of the school year focuses on this alone.

The state Education Department has simply refused to make the questions public, saying that they will need them in years to come. This lack of transparency has aggravated and frustrated teachers, parents and students alike.

“With the complete lack of transparency regarding how the tests were scored and proficiency levels determined, an increasingly skeptical public is left to wonder whether test scores rise and fall year to year simply to suit the latest political agenda, as when Mayor Bloomberg, seeking a third term, exploited artificially inflated scores,” stated Change the Stakes. “Parents are fed up with the seemingly arbitrary ups and downs of scores that affect their children’s promotions to the next grade and admissions to middle and high school.”

Tale after tale is being told of excellent students having to resist these new Common-Core-aligned exams. In effect, a student can pass their ELA or math class, but “fail” the Common-Core-aligned state test and be denied promotion to the next grade. Change the Stake noted, “New York City is the only locality in the state that uses test scores for this purpose.”

Bedford Academy High School Principal Adofo Muhammad told the AmNews, “The recent scores reflect a monumental shift in the expectations we have for our children, who are in our care. It also reveals to show how much work we have to do in order to compete on a global scale.”

The Brooklyn educator continued, “These scores should be a wake-up call for our community in relation to developing college-readiness skill sets at an early age; and it should serve to create a longitudinal perspective that our communities have mastered, while segments of our community have immersed themselves in the theater of the absurd in regards to pathological behavior that will only continue to cause a greater gap in the academic achievements of Black and Latino students in New York City.”

Retired math and Black history professor Sam Anderson blasted, “These Common Core centered exams claim to be about critical thinking. Yet, the curriculum and pedagogy of New York City teachers has been not about developing critical thinking skills. For the past 25 to 30 years, it’s been about developing test-taking skills. Hence, when the Common Core exams contain a bit of critical thinking kinds of questions, our children and most of their teachers don’t have the intellectual tools to answer them.”

Anderson added that in the compiling of the Common Core curriculum and its implementation, “Parents were left out of the loop. If they knew anything about this Common Core switcharoo—and 99 percent did not know—all they were supposed to do was go online and read about the wonders of the Common Core and trust Arne Duncan and Dennis BloomCott to bring out the brilliance in their sons and daughters.”