Soundoff: Common Core

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Common Core standards were developed by Achieve, a nonprofit whose board is the who’s who of corporate America, and is largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Oregon and many other states have adopted the Common Core standards. The Oregon Department of Education requires that our schools replace existing standard tests with tests based on the Common Core by spring 2015. The teachers’ union, the Oregon Education Association, is calling for a delay in implementation of Common Core testing. The Gates Foundation, too, offered that testing of the Common Core should not begin for two more years. 

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Hanna Vaandering

Oregon Education Association

Ron Saxton

Oregon Department of Education

Imagine an 8-year-old nervously sitting in front of a computer taking a standardized test that could label her a failure. Or, a high school junior spending weeks preparing for a mandated test that won’t provide the student or his teacher with any information on how he can improve.
This isn’t fictional. This is happening now.

According to a national study, more than a month of instructional time can be lost to test preparation and administration in a single school year.
It is about to get worse for Oregon students.

Oregon is planning to implement a new, high-stakes standardized test for all students. It will measure whether students are mastering the new Common Core State Standards. Oregon’s educators believe in high standards. In a recent poll of Oregon educators, however, more than half give their schools failing grades on Common Core planning and implementation, and 60 percent said there is too much emphasis on standardized testing.

Our toxic testing culture is taking the love of learning out of our classrooms.

So, who wants this? Not students. Not parents. Not teachers. Indeed, in a 2013 PDK/Gallup poll, 77 percent of respondents said increased testing has either hurt or made no difference in improving schools.

Oregon educators have a better way. We are demanding a moratorium on any new high-stakes, standardized tests and have created a plan for the successful transition to the Common Core State Standards.

OEA members are also working with the governor, Oregon’s chief education officer and the Oregon Department of Education to develop an assessment system that doesn’t force teachers to teach to the test and actually improves student learning.

Please join us in standing up for students and against toxic testing. Help us put the love of learning back in our classrooms.

In 2010, Oregon adopted the Common Core State Standards which set clear learning goals in English and math by streamlining what students should be able to do at each grade. The goal of these standards is to prepare students for life after high school, whether that be college or career. The new standards, however, have raised questions in Oregon and around the country as parents and community members try to understand what the standards will mean for our kids.

Oregon teachers have been implementing the Common Core over the past few years, developing curriculum and lessons aligned to the new standards. A majority supports the standards and believes they are a way to improve our schools and opportunities for our students.

Oregon has had instructional standards for years, though these did not adequately prepare our students for the rapidly changing future. These new expectations offer a clear, strong path to student success.

The new English standards, for example, help students gain critical-thinking skills by engaging with a variety of complex written texts. Students read both fiction and nonfiction and are given opportunities to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. These are skills relevant to the real world and will better prepare students for success beyond high school.

In math, there is a shift away from the ability to compute and solve. Instead, students focus on understanding mathematical concepts designed to enhance overall understanding. Students are encouraged to solve problems in a variety of ways. It’s not just about getting the right answer, but the ability to explain the math behind how you got there.

The new standards are designed to help our students reach their highest potential and graduate with the skills they need to succeed. We can’t afford to offer our students anything less.

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