PARCC, Common Core, and Your Students

An Intro to the Great Education Debate…

It’s not news that Common Core and the implementation of the PARCC assessments are dominating headlines in education and beyond. The recent adoption of Common Core Assessments in 46 states across the country, and the implementation of PARCC assessments, have ignited a fiery debate about the value of universal standards for education, testing, school culture and the role of teaching and learning.

To some parents, and many teachers, this issue is simple: there is too much testing in our schools, leading to rampant teaching to the test, and widespread anxiety among students and teachers alike. To others, PARCC and Common Core are a welcome resolution to the need for nationalized standards in education because otherwise a student’s zip code can greatly influence the quality of the K-12 education students he or she receives before leaving school. If you’re new to the debate, here’s an intro:

Those who view PARCC and Common Core favorably argue: 

  • Common Core and PARCC promote more time for reading and encourage critical thinking: Common Core standards integrate reading and critical thinking at higher levels than past state curriculums. This is achieved using high-order vocabulary, multiple answer questions, and the integration of reading into non-traditional subject in STEM and the Social Sciences. This adoption is a positive for education and student learning nationwide.
  • National standards (and the tests that access them) allow us to compare schools and learning across state lines: Why should different states have different standards? This question has puzzled educators and parents alike for years, especially as students enter institutions of higher education across state lines.  When an increasing proportion of students enter higher education unprepared for the courses ahead of them, common standards and testing can help address this disparity. Over time, we will be able to pinpoint best practices within successful states to encourage student learning across the nation at large.

Those who view PARCC and Common Core unfavorably argue: 

  • PARCC intensifies a culture of “teaching to the test” in American Schools: Accountability standards and high-stakes testing have been in place since the passing of No Child Left Behind, and in some states, even longer. Critics such as Diane Ravitch argue that such high-stakes testing leads to an unproductive system which forces teachers to align instruction to their state test, forcing “kill and drill” practice of testing rather than the development of learning skills or interdisciplinary ideas. This also means that non-tested subjects, such as science and social studies, may be reduced or cut from curriculum.
  • PARCC and Common Core place unfair expectations on teachers and students: As teachers are increasingly evaluated based on their students test scores, many feel that they are being held to an unfair or unattainable standard placed on them by outside forces with little knowledge or understanding of the classroom. In addition, students experience the high-stakes of these tests as well: many states require that students pass their 10th or 11th grade state or federal exams in order to graduate from high school.

While this issue is far from simple, PARCC and Common Core’s future impact on American schools is clear.  In the short and long-term, school curriculum and culture will hinge on the existence of these state mandated standards and tests.

Our team has always been concerned with helping teachers taking a changing classroom in stride, without losing focus on what matters most: the students.  Whether you are one of the 41% of teachers view the program positively or the 65% who are worried about the mandated implementation in your classroom we’re here to help you succeed.

We’re happy to introduce Gradeable’s new tool for classroom integration of PARCC and Common Core Standards: Multiple Correct Answer, Multiple Choice Grading. This means that teachers can grade PARCC-style questions instantly with our automatic grading tool, drastically reducing administrative busywork and giving teachers more time for their students.

For now, PARCC is a coming reality for teachers all across the nation.  The transition might not be an easy one, but teachers, students, and parents…we just want to let you know that we’re with you through these changes and we’re doing everything we can to help make school a nurturing and exciting environment for both students and teachers.

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