Professional Development

Teachers’ ‘Core’ Concern: The Tests

By Liana Loewus — March 14, 2013 2 min read
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Yesterday, we published an exciting (well, we think it’s exciting) story package on “Common-Core Instructional Opportunities,” with the goal of highlighting how the new standards are being implemented on the ground in classrooms. To be honest, we’d read enough of the 30,000-foot “is common core good or not?” debate. We’d also discovered there was a pretty major disconnect between that discussion and the one the majority of teachers are now having, which is, “How do we do this with our students?”

Through our reporting for this package, which took us from Long Island to San Diego and many places in between, we heard some of the same mantras again and again. Lots of teachers are happy with the standards because they’re rigorous, seem to promote in-depth learning, and have real-world applicability. Teachers see professional development as a key to implementation, and say they need more of it. And almost everyone we talked to said they’re downright scared about the forthcoming common-core-aligned tests.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered about what these tests will look like, how they’ll be administered, and how the results will be used—all of which are feeding teachers’ anxieties. But at least now, as Education Week‘s Catherine Gewertz reported recently, both of the common-core assessment consortia have released their estimated testing times. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, said its tests will take eight to 10 hours for students to complete. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium estimated a duration of seven to eight and a half hours.

In a FAQ document about testing administration, PARRC states, “For some states, the PARCC testing time will add up to more assessment hours than they currently have in place for ELA/literacy and mathematics. But for other states, this will result in about the same or less testing time.”

Testing duration is probably not the top fear among teachers. (How they will be evaluated on the basis of these new, harder tests is probably closer to the mark). But it is certainly on the list. This new information is likely to have allayed some teachers’ fears that the tests would be too long—and stoked others’.

We want to know from the rest of you: As you learn more about the tests, are you becoming more or less worried about how they’ll affect teaching and learning? What kind of impact do you think the tests will have on how the standards are ultimately implemented? Does this change your feelings on the standards themselves, for better or worse?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.