Will Assessments ‘Short-Circuit’ the Common Core?

By Anthony Rebora — July 30, 2012 1 min read
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Middle school teacher Jose Vilson says that, as a teacher, he finds it difficult—if not pointless—to form an opinion about the Common Core State Standards without knowing what the assessment components will look like:

The assessment will decide whether the "cool" pieces will matter. Who cares if we have less standards [for] K-8 if students still get tested to death? Who cares if we have more coherent, fluid sequences for what students learn if 20-40 days out of the year get dedicated to interim and state tests for various subjects? Who cares if we as teachers have to think harder about the sorts of questions they ask of students if we constantly have to consider whether the material we teach has a high probability of ending up on the test?

Pivoting off Vilson’s post, English teacher Renee Moore argues that educators should be given more time to assimilate and respond to the common standards before the assessments are even designed:

The rush by PARCC and SBAC to develop assessments before we have curriculum and instruction in place only increases teacher skepticism and cynicism about the Common Core State Standards. This short-circuits some of the most crucial discussions we could be having about the quality of teaching and learning in our schools. Instead, many teachers look wistfully at the potential good in the standards with one eye, while watching with the other for the proverbial shoe.

Still, both Vilson and Moore seem to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for positive instuctional change—assuming (if I understand them correctly) the policy “noise” around the common standards doesn’t displace the practical needs of teachers and students.

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