The Massachusetts State Board of Education recently made the announcement that Common Core tests would be replaced with own state exams. Coming from one of the nation’s education leaders – Massachusetts is also dubbed the education ‘miracle state’ – the move may be a push for nationwide education experts to design a better alternative.
Yet, the latest decision is not unique. Other states plan to forego the controversial testing over various reasons. Parents say that the tests are too hard; teachers say that score-based evaluations of their professionalism are unfair, while conservatives suspect that the federal government may plan to use Common Core to take over the states’ education systems.
To date, only 20 states pledged that they will stick with PARCC tests under Common Core.
Though it was once key supporter for Common Core testing, the Bay State may now become a key breakaway. Education officials declined to provide the reason behind the move but there is a major goal Common Core somehow failed to achieve.
The tests were designed to provide state-to-state comparisons between students’ levels of progress, but in the meantime some states began to use carefully selected wording to report test results. This is why in some states a score was deemed ‘approaching expectations,’ while in other states, the same score was considered ‘proficient.’ And so, differences between states became blurry in recent years.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education James A. Peyser told reporters last month that it might be ‘premature’ to say that Common Core was a failure, but he acknowledged that the testing was ‘in retreat.’
Moreover, Obama administration, which heavily promoted the standard in a bid to boost performance nationwide through a good ol’ carrot-and-stick approach, admitted that the heavy testing in the last 20 years may have been an exaggeration.
Last month, Obama administration urged Congress to put a cap of 2 percent of educational time to test-related activities. Nowadays, an average student in a U.S. major city takes eight standardized tests on an annual basis, and there isn’t yet any compelling evidence that the tests improved students’ performance nationwide.
Some teachers, however, believe that Massachusetts should have a little more patience and refrain from reverting to old standards and dismiss a 20 years worth of educational turnaround.
While Massachusetts doesn’t plan to leave the PARCC consortium, it will revert to its MCAS tests, which were first introduced through an education reform in 1993. Education state officials plan for MCAS tests to follow Common Core standards and eliminate all the bureaucratic hassle.
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