The “how”s, “who”s, and “why”s of the brand-new PARCC test


Mr. Jones teaches students in his last block class for social studies.

Ryan Cantwell and Hunter Sherraden

Common Core standards are a high-level system for math and English classes that allow the educational system to see where students should be depending on grade level. It strives to get all students in the United States on the same level to prepare them for college and/or future careers.

The creation of Common Core comes from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards correlate with the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test, which has been implemented in many states, including Colorado. The standards eventually lead to the ACT test which is an overall assessment of the student’s readiness for college.

The creation of Common Core comes from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which  not any sort of government affiliation. The government gets its hands in Common Core once getting into grants. To be able to get a federal grant a school must first prove that they have standards that will prepare students for college and work. Schools do not have to adopt the Common Core, but adopting the standards will for the most part guarantee that the school qualifies for a federal grant.

Controversy follows Common Core in the form of criticism that it is too difficult. Argument over the topic comes from frustration with students. Many teachers don’t want to cause students to get to the point of being frustrated with understanding reading or math that they forever dislike or hate math and English. The other side of the argument states that challenging students will cause them to understand higher levels and be able to go much quicker.

Before the whole idea of Common Core, teachers would generally level students. Rather than pushing the students, their system revolved around students working at their level to prevent frustration. The way the leveling system would operate would be more around reading scores determined by tests. Both sides have issues; the old way causes students to not be pushed and not learn as much but, the Common Core way pushes too far according to many teachers.

Common Core strongly encourages expansion of memory in the form of pushing a student’s brain. It could potentially cause the next generation to be more successful and increase the United States’ educational ranking. For schools, the main reason to go to Common Core is because of the funding the government will produce for switching. Testing follows right behind Common Core, and allows teachers to see how students are doing.

Some states for many years have had lower standards for the common student, such as Kansas. The common occurrence for states such as Kansas would be that the standards were very low for the average student due to the fact that those who wanted to have their student go to college would simply send their student to a charter or private school. From an economic standpoint the standards for Kansas are low because they only need few people to go to college but a large amount for agricultural purposes. Common Core standards then push those states to produce higher standards and push students.

The Common Core movement strongly pushes to establish national standards and national testing, but takes away independent state freedoms to pick how their standards behave. The reduction of freedom for states results from the PARCC test that comes hand in hand with Common Core standards.

The ACT also takes a role in reducing freedom of states even more because it determines a student’s future. The standards, as said earlier, aim to get students on the same level which can be said to be an impossible goal because not everyone is the same; some may struggle in certain subjects more than others. This could mean for those who are academically above average could be that they could be brought down to the a level lower than they were.

Mr. Talbott, a math teacher at Manitou Springs High School, said, “The fact that neither of the leaders in math or English for the board signed the Common Core’s charter just makes me think that they weren’t happy with the standards and we should scrutinize it.”

Talbott is referring to the head of English and the head of math of the board that created the standards, who volunteered to lead those sections to create the Common Core standards. Both agreed with the idea that a standard level should exist nation wide but thought the standards themselves were not sufficient. A large contribution to neither of them signing was due to the lack of testing. They felt that it could easily have been implemented in a few schools to see how they felt of the standards.

Finding a solution will be the hard part on the standards side because learning includes many aspects socially that vary from student to student. This means that methods to teach, whether Common Core or not, must be changed for each student. The student’s failure revolves around some social aspect for the most part, which includes peer influence, home life, or even the teachers and staff at the school. Even if the standards seem perfect for the majority, there remain many who won’t be able to perform up to the standards because of aspects that don’t have to do with standards. Not much can be done about the outliers except for personalized teaching, which generally costs a large sum of money, meaning many of the students who need it would not be able to afford the tutoring. Apart from social issues, not every student will mentally be able to learn at the same pace or learn as much. Many people may struggle in math but not English or vise versa.

Due to the government giving money and funding to schools who take up Common Core, Manitou School District 14 will get increased funding to improve different items. These items include things such as technology, sports equipment, and basic supplies. There has been and will be a change for teachers at all of the Manitou schools. These changes are mostly specific items that have to be taught that weren’t before. New testing also will be implemented such as PARCC testing and all future tests that come with the standards.