Why the Common Core is Destroying Youths’ Desire to Learn

Common Core

In a blog post by Diane Ravitch, historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University, shares with her readers an anonymous letter.

“It is time for parents to speak out against the Common Core standards,” the writer begins. “They are destroying the love of learning in our children. My eight-year old son is in the third grade. He is a very strong student, particularly in Mathematics. Despite that strength, he recently had a homework assignment from his Common Core Math workbook that frustrated him to tears.” The embittered father continues to explain that the word problem was a multi-step problem that involved “subtracting three digit numbers [and] estimating each number’s tenth place value before subtracting,” among others. The concerned guardian then discusses that instead of being excited to do math homework like he used to be, his unconfident 8-year-old son frequently says, “I don’t get this. It doesn’t make sense,” with which his outraged father agrees.

An article by Sarah Tully, Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation,  cites the 47th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, “the longest-running survey of public attitudes toward education,” which found that “54 percent of respondents are against teachers using the Common Core.” Why did over half of the survey’s participants reject the new school standard? It could be in part because of its effect on students’ test scores, and motivation to learn.

The Huffington Post reports, only 31 percent of students pass the Core’s difficult tests. Even more concerning: “only 3.2 percent of English language learners were able to pass the new tests, along with only 5 percent of students with disabilities, and 17 percent of black students.” It’s no wonder why students are so discouraged. Having to face tests that are so far beyond their intelligence level, many students give up instead of trying harder.

Charlotte Danielson, a renowned authority on teacher evaluation and a strong supporter of the Common Core, admitted that the controversial standard has its faults.

“I do worry somewhat about the assessments—I’m concerned that we may be headed for a train wreck there. The test items I’ve seen that have been released so far are extremely challenging. If I had to take a test that was entirely comprised of items like that, I’m not sure that I would pass it—and I’ve got a bunch of degrees. So I do worry that in some schools we’ll have 80 percent or some large number of students failing. That’s what I mean by train wreck.

How come Common Core tests are so much more difficult for students to pass than the previous standardized tests? According to AP writer Christine Amario, “rather than paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests, the new exams are designed to be taken by tablet or computer. Instead of being given a selection of answers to choose, students must show how they got their answer. Answer correctly and get a more difficult question. Answer incorrectly, get an easier one.”

As an extremely grateful college student who completed grade school and high school before all of these changes were made to public education, I can’t imagine how stressed I would be if I no longer could think out and write my answers with a pencil and a piece of paper. Furthermore, the expectation to provide the reasons behind my answers sounds even more stressful. As a student I would be continuously fearful that even if I did prepare the correct reasons for my answers, I’d only have a more difficult question to pick apart and analyze. If I had to tackle difficult tests on desktops and tablets, I would likely fail every one.

The Common Core ignores the fact that every child has a different method of learning, and just because one method works for the majority of children does not mean that it will enable all children to be successful. Children are losing their desire to learn. It is up to mature generations to fix this corrupt system and teach children individually according to their abilities and skills.

Ravitch reiterates in her article that the passing marks (cut scores) on the Smarter Balanced Assessment “were set in such a way that most students were certain to ‘fail’”. According to the article, Smarter Balanced is one of two main state corporations that are using $360 million in federal funds to create common-core tests.

The executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Joe Wilhoit, predicted that “over time, the performance of students will improve.” Ravitch responds with “maybe they will, maybe they won’t,” citing that in twenty-three years of testing the states, Massachusetts is the only state in the nation in which 50% of students reached the qualified level. What does this mean? It will be many years–if ever–until half of the students are able to reach these unfairly high cut scores.

So how can parents and educators fight back against the Common Core? The Home School Legal Defense Association tells its readers to contact state legislators and federal representatives, all while spreading the word and staying in touch with HSLDA for updates. You can sign up for HSLDA e-lerts here.

I will always be against the Common Core because I was in the public school system, and after years of feeling like my effort was put towards pointless homework assignments and tests, I transferred to a private school that allowed me to complete work on my own time, which allowed me to accelerate my high school career and graduate a year early. Transferring to a charter school changed my life because I was able to do work at my own pace and determine when I would graduate high school. My experience gave me a newfound inspiration to learn and proceed with my education.

As Dr. William Mathis of the University of Colorado once said, “The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap.” It’s up to you to stand up for our future generation of children’s education; allowing such unfair standards to plague students with copious amounts of stress and frustration can only hurt their desire to learn and grow, in turn hurting the entire education system.

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