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Sat., Apr. 18
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Problems with Common Core tests harder to spot with fewer students taking them

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The parents who have refused to allow their children to take the most recent round of tests administered under the Common Core State Standards Initiative have a point to make.

They believe the standardized tests do not adequately assess what students are learning in public schools these days. The disconnect between what is occurring in classrooms and what is in the tests may actually set their children up to fail, these parents fear.

And, to some extent, these parents are justified in believing this. As the standardized tests are not written by individual teachers based on their respective courses, they cannot thoroughly reflect what each child has learned in a specific course.

But even though the parents want to show that there is something wrong with the Common Core tests, they may be hurting more than helping their cause along the way. How can we truly know what’s wrong with the tests if students are kept from taking them?

Rather than avoiding the tests, parents concerned with their potential flaws should ensure that their children take them. The more students who take the tests, the greater the point made when many of them fall short in certain areas.

Earlier this year, the New York State Board of Regents delayed implementing the Common Core State Standards from their previous start date. They were scheduled to take full effect in 2017, but now they won’t be put into place until 2022.

This means that the tests being administered now won’t affect students’ grades or academic standings. Parents may refuse to allow their children to take the tests as doing so won’t have any consequences.

But that’s a better argument for taking the tests now to show if and how they are flawed. First of all, failing parts of the tests won’t adversely affect students. And weaknesses in testing can be more easily ignored if fewer students are taking them.

Common problems among a larger testing population, however, will effectively demonstrate the flaws in the testing itself. If these tests don’t sufficiently correspond with what is being taught in the classroom, we’ll have a much better sense of this if most students take them.

What we know for certain is that some reforms in public education are crucial. There are major problems with the status quo, so changes must be made.

How we make those changes is of the utmost importance. And determining where the Common Core tests are flawed should be part of this process. Having students take these tests to identify weak points is essential in revising the system and improving our educational attainment level.

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