In a frank and stunning letter to parents, eight school principals from around the state of New York have expressed deep concerns about the validity and usefulness of new Common Core-aligned tests foisted on all public-school children in grades three through eight.
The multi-million-dollar battery of high-stakes standardized tests has been designed by Pearson, a multinational education conglomerate, reports The Washington Post.
In their lengthy letter, the group of principals warns that many children have experienced viscerally negative responses to the high-stakes tests.
We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, ‘This is too hard,’ and ‘I can’t do this,’ throughout his test booklet.
The principals also observe that students are spending considerably more time taking standardized tests this year. New York third-graders, for example, are now spending 163 percent more time filling in bubbles thanks to Common Core.
In addition, the principals say the tests are too long and contain too many experimental questions which don’t count toward a student’s score. “We know that many students were unable to complete the tests in the allotted time,” they say. They point out that it’s hard to know if students don’t know the answers to all the scored questions, or if they just aren’t getting to them in time.
On top of that, a lot of the test questions are quite simply awful. “We know that many teachers and principals could not agree on the correct answers to ambiguous questions,” the principals complain.
The principals observe that the tests don’t correspond with the results of other tests on similar material. The Common Core-related test scores tend to be lower. However, as a result of the Common Core-aligned test scores, students who never needed academic intervention before this year are now receiving mandatory extra help. In some districts, these students have been forced to give up electives such as instrumental music and computer training.
There are many other complaints. “Low-scoring children feel like failures,” for example. And schools are limiting the arts, field trips and the like and instead pouring money and time into Common Core-aligned test prep.
Over the course of a couple weeks, notes the Post, well over 500 other principals and almost 3,000 parents and teachers have signed the letter.
The eight principals also note that the emphasis on standardized testing is threatening the entire Common Core State Standards Initiative, an attempt in 45 states to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.
Students are suffering through similar tests and often spectacularly shoddy implementation of the Common Core curriculum across most of the country this year.
The Common Core standards demand that students know certain things by certain grade levels, but do little to describe how teachers should impart those skills.
Criticism of the Common Core has risen sharply. Opposition has brought together conservatives who are opposed to centralized, one-size-fits-all public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.
Many teachers and school administrators hate it because, they say, implementation has been rushed and teachers have had no input concerning the material to be taught or tested. (RELATED: Common Core forces new kindergarteners to bubble in test answers)