Common Core testing begins in NY — but are exams ready for prime time?

Apr 16, 2013 by

Students in various grades in New York schools will start taking high-stakes standardized tests on Tuesday that, for the first time, are supposedly aligned to the Common Core State Standards. School reformers say the tests will better assess how much students know than the old standardized tests did, though critics question that contention, and say that students may be tested on curriculum they have not yet learned. (Here’s a post on why the Common Core-aligned tests won’t be the “game changer” in assessment that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said they would be.) Parents at dozens of New York schools are choosing to opt their children out of taking the tests.

Following is a piece from a testing expert, Fred Smith, about why he thinks the new exams are not ready to be used in schools, despite what state officials think. Smith, a testing specialist and consultant, retired as an administrative analyst for the New York City public schools. He is a member of Change the Stakes, a parent advocacy group.

By Fred Smith

New York education officials just wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News called “Here Comes the Common Core,” and indeed, here it comes: Students across the state today are starting to take high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

“Here Comes the Common Core” — by Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, John King, state education commissioner, Dennis Walcott, chancellor of the New York City public school system and Shael Polakow-Suransky, city chief academic officer — is a clever caption that brings to mind the words ready or not… Unfortunately, schools throughout New York State clearly are not prepared for what the authors are calling a “dynamic transition” to the Core but realists more aptly describe as confusion.

The Common Core State Standards are a set of learning standards setting forth what students should learn and be able to do so that all of them are prepared for college and careers.  Critics contend the stringent standards and the “core-aligned” tests that are being given this week in grades 3–8, have been rolled out without building the bridge to connect them—a curriculum and professional development package for teachers.

Common Core testing begins in NY — but are exams ready for prime time?.

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