We have come to know the term "March Madness" as a description of our national college basketball championships. But this year, the term may better describe standardized testing that is gripping public schools in much of the nation. Today is the first school day in March and the first day (outside of piloting done earlier) of PARCC testing in many states. There is much angst about our new standardized tests, which is supposed to measure student performance related to Common Core State Standards.
Many parents and educators are saying no to this test, and the other version called Smarter Balanced, for a variety of reasons. There is concern about the test itself and whether it truly measures the standards. There is concern that the standards are not developmentally appropriate. Some people believe the process used to develop the standards was flawed, making the standards themselves flawed. This is a high stakes test that will be factored into teacher evaluations and decisions regarding student placement, graduation, and the future of individual schools. And then there's the technology. Schools and districts have spent an tremendous amount of money upgrading their hardware and infrastructure just to be sure students will be able to take the test. There is fear that students' lack of basic computer skills or preparation for the test (which includes specific computer functions) may negatively impact scores.
If you have a child enrolled in public schools, are an educator or a taxpayer where these tests are being implemented, you need to know they are influencing just about everything related to public education. The debate is hot and heavy and likely will not let up any time soon. If you would like to know what all the fuss is about, go to the PARCC website and take a sample test. See if you agree these tests will help us prepare our kids for college and career, or if you agree with Louis CK who says it is nonsense with questions like, "Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?"
Janine Walker Caffrey writes about reading, education and a few other topics related to happiness and life in general.