One of the most calm, well-thought out op-eds on Common Core that I have read from Elizabeth Phillips, principal in NYC's PS 321. Read the entire thing but here are highlights:
So teachers watched hundreds of thousands of children in grades 3 to 8
sit for between 70 and 180 minutes per day for three days taking a state
English Language Arts exam that does a poor job of testing reading
comprehension, and yet we’re not allowed to point out what the problems
We want to be clear: We were not protesting testing; we were not
protesting the Common Core standards. We were protesting the fact that
we had just witnessed children being asked to answer questions that had
little bearing on their reading ability and yet had huge stakes for
students, teachers, principals and schools. We
were protesting the fact that it is our word against the state’s, since
we cannot reveal the content of the passages or the questions that were
In general terms, the tests were confusing, developmentally inappropriate and not well aligned with the Common Core standards. And
the tests were too long; none of us can figure out why we need to test
for three days to determine how well a child reads and writes.
Children as young as 8 were asked several questions that required
rereading four different paragraphs and then deciding which one of those
paragraphs best connected to a fifth paragraph.
Teachers and administrators at my school have spoken out against the
overemphasis on testing for years, but our stance is not one of “sour
grapes.” Last year we were one of the 25 top-scoring schools in New York
State. We have implemented the Common Core standards with enthusiasm,
and we have always supported the idea that great teaching is the best
test preparation. We limited test prep and kept the focus on great instruction. We
reassured families that we would avoid stressing out their children, and
But we believed that New York State and Pearson would have
listened to the extensive feedback they received last year and revised
the tests accordingly. We were not naïve enough to think that the tests
would be transformed, but we counted on their being slightly improved.
It truly was shocking to look at the exams in third, fourth and fifth
grade and to see that they were worse than ever. We felt as if we’d been
I am really glad that Seattle School students are not the guinea pigs for this grand and expensive experiment. However, if Pearson is getting feedback from teachers and STILL doesn't change the tests, then our kids will have this experience. That we hear this from top performing schools and they are will to march in protest over this should tell you something.