Limited options: why the Common Core fails our students

Read the question. Bubble in the answer. Read the question. Bubble in the answer. Repeat.

That’s the brilliant innovation in public education today — tests. Common Core Standards, commonly referred to as the Common Core, is a nation-wide initiative that explains what students in grades K-12 should know. Once those details are in place, evaluations begin in the form of standardized tests. The standards are set in place to best prepare students for college and the workforce.  They’re doing the opposite.

The standards call for an increased focus in English Language Arts and Mathematics. If you aren’t strong in those subjects, too bad. That’s where the problem begins. Every student is not the same. Each student has different strengths, tendencies and styles of learning. It doesn’t make sense to conform them. In college, we all have the ability to select an area to study. Those strong in science may decide to study a similar field; those that struggle in science will most likely not attack that area of study.

Education should be on personal basis, not a national basis. Give students the ability to experience different things. Once they find something they love, they’re then prepared for college and the workforce. That’s what should be cherished by our culture, our diversity. Don’t rob a student of his or her individuality.

When I mean options, I don’t mean in the realm of multiple choice. Options should be endless, flexible and even sometimes, dreams.”

— Dave DeLuca

The last I checked, tests didn’t teach. Even the hard tests are just, well, hard tests. Standardized tests and the Common Core are separate problems but both are linked together. Both screaming “corruption.” What happened to allowing teachers to inspire students? I’ve had a handful of teachers that inspired me. A few pushed me beyond my limits and I’m grateful now that they did. Other teachers brought light to things in my life that had been hiding in the dark.

Now, students are taught what they are going to be tested on. That’s a waste of teaching. They now have to teach what the Common Core calls important. Western New Yorkers for Public Education is a group of parents, educators and community members that have frankly had enough. They believe in a diverse curriculum that expands outside of the Common Core: science, history, art, music, physical education and technology all deem important.

Imagine how many students at Buffalo State are studying similar fields. The real key for public education is providing more options in grades K-12 that will better prepare them for the road ahead. When I mean options, I don’t mean in the realm of multiple choice. Options should be endless, flexible and even sometimes, dreams.

Western New Yorkers for Public Education noted high-stakes standardized testing is consuming 25 percent of a student’s academic year. Doesn’t sound like college and career readiness to me. In college, quality test scores reflect on our GPA. But, that will only get you so far. Congrats on the 4.0, man. Now, what can you do?

Here’s some advice for when you’re sweating sitting through finals-week: Read the question. Bubble in the answer. But, beware – you may not find the “right” one.

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