Education Guide / Issues
WHAT'S AT ISSUE?
The controversy centers on how students are tested, how teachers are held accountable, and whether the standards are developmentally appropriate and promote good pedagogy. Tests aligned to the Common Core have been particularly contentious. Most of the exams that states have adopted, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), are online, meaning schools must update technology and teach students how to take the exams. Critics also worry that mandated annual tests have led to schools focusing only on what could be tested. The Common Core is not a curriculum, but some materials based on the new standards have been called confusing and too advanced in earlier grades, and have been criticized for emphasizing conceptual understanding over quick mental calculations.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
How do we know if the Common Core provides a solution to the longstanding complaint that U.S. education is substandard? Read the Common Core standards (or the standards that states are using instead) and visit classes to see real teachers grapple with them. Find out how schools that did well on the new tests prepared for them. Also, visit schools that aren’t using PARCC or Smarter Balanced to see if the exams they’ve selected are an improvement over what was used before.