Assessment

Stephen Colbert Takes on Common-Core Tests

By Ross Brenneman — April 09, 2014 1 min read
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As news about the Common Core State Standards continue to trickle into the public consciousness, opponents have similarly stepped up their criticism.

And now that criticism has come to late night: On “The Colbert Report” Tuesday, Stephen Colbert (or the pseudo-conservative character he plays, at least) ripped into the common-core-aligned tests, which have many parents and teachers worried:

The Colbert Report

It’s characteristically funny and biting, especially when he describes the case of one 2nd grader who, asked on a test to give a written explanation for how he reached a math solution, essentially replied that he just thought about it. That differed from the more complex, sequential answer that he was likely expected to give.

“Folks, this child has a bright future. He is only in 2nd grade and can already clearly explain what it feels like to think,” Colbert said. “Now we just need to get him to explain what that feels like to whoever wrote the common-core questions.”

(The clip didn’t give that much specific context for the particular example shown, so it’s hard to verify the incident, but the child’s response sounds like something sarcastic I might have written in 2nd grade.)

You might notice, by the way, that Colbert initially calls the standards the “common-core curriculum,” which is not exactly right, although critics of the standards might say that the former leads to the latter, and it’s not like anyone hasn’t argued for a common curriculum. The standards also aren’t a federal initiative, but the Obama administration has been involved enough to draw plenty of notice.

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


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