Common Core field test: many juniors question its usefulness

With the introduction of Chromebooks and a rolling block schedule came much discontent from the Common Core pilot program testers.

Although Common Core is designed to prepare high school students for college and the workforce, some juniors argue that it was not only unfair but illogical to test the program on juniors.

Some juniors said that it would have been most sensible to have the sophomores or the freshmen take the Common Core tests to better acquaint them because this year’s juniors will not take the Common Core tests next year as seniors.

Consequently, some juniors dismissed the test. Many students did not feel compelled to take the test seriously because they knew that it would not be officially scored.

Because they had been told how the tests would be graded — a computer will scan through typed-in answers and highlight key words and phrases, rather than reading the whole response — some students bullet listed words from the passages provided. A few students finished within 10 minutes because they guessed on the entirety of the multiple choice.

“It literally took me two minutes to do,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous. “I didn’t feel the need to try on it, so I just guessed on a majority of it.”

History teacher Beth Oesterman said that the tests were not conducted this year to determine how well students would score, but rather to discover if the Chromebooks would work and if an entire classroom set could connect to the same wi-fi port.

“For our district it was to see how our technology worked and what can be improved for next year,” Oesterman said. “I was a bit disappointed when students finished in five minutes on the test while their fellow classmates took it more seriously.”

Students seemed to be more concerned with extended periods than the tests themselves. Sophomore Aaron Rugnao expressed discontent at having to spend an hour and a half in Pre-Calculus.

It literally took me two minutes to do, I didn’t feel the need to try on it, so I just guessed on a majority of it.”

— Anonymous

“I didn’t like having to go to a class that I don’t really like for long periods of time,” Rugnao said.

Both Anonymous and Rugnao expressed doubts that students taking the tests next year will fare well unless classroom curriculum is adjusted to meet the Common Core standards.

“In order [for the students] to actually do well on the test, the teachers would have to change their curriculum,” Anonymous said. “I couldn’t even answer a lot of those things, and I get good grades.”

“The curriculum would have to make the students have a mindset like those enrolled in AP courses,” Anonymous said. “Teachers will have to attempt to make us think critically, analyze and write better, and familiarize us with how a ChromeBook works.”

Common Core is expected to change curriculum without mandating changes in the way teachers instruct their students.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative explains this on the website’s Myth vs. Fact page.

“Teachers know best about what works in the classroom,” CCSSI states.

That is why these standards establish what students need to learn but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students reach the standards.”

“To meet the standards they probably should change the way that they’re teaching,” Rugnao said. “The teachers should get feedback on the Common Core test from the juniors so they know what skills they should focus on teaching the next year.”