As states push Common Core curriculum into classrooms across the country, teachers, students, and parents begin to boycott the highly rigorous standardized tests and classroom materials.
Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and now Washington are among the states facing the greatest boycott movements from both students and staff. Most recently in Seattle, Garfield High School and Ballard High School teachers announced that they refuse to administer Common Core tests in their classrooms, citing that they waste “time and money” as well as “already limited school resources.”
Garfield High’s academic dean and testing coordinator Kris McBride said in a press release that the tests “produce specious results, and wreak havoc on limited school resources.”
Common Core has so far been implemented in 43 states—Oregon being one of the first. Its purpose is to measure student achievement, evaluate teachers and schools, mandate graduation requirements, and create a more rigorous and competitive learning environment for students on a national and global scale.
The curriculum introduces new, more focused methods for teaching language arts and mathematics. Due to its rigorous nature, student achievement was expected to decline.
Many teachers oppose Common Core because they feel they are teaching information for the sole purpose of preparing students to take a test at the end of the year, rather than to enrich students’ knowledge.
Robert Scott, the commissioner of education in Texas said publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” of gauging student learning is a “perversion” of what quality education ought to be.
Student body president at Garfield High School, Obadiah Stephens-Terry said, “I know when I took the test, it didn’t seem relevant to what we were studying in class – and we have great classes here at Garfield. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, just did it as quickly as possible so they could do something more useful with their time.”
Many parents have opted out of their children taking standardized tests. Thousands have signed a National Resolution to protest government promotion of high-stakes tests.
In Oregon, students are required to each take 51 tests throughout high school. ELL students (English Language Learners) are required to take an additional 4.
This April and May, Oregon schools will implement the Smarter Balanced standardized test which will include reading, math, writing, listening, researching, and thinking skills. The test is expected to take roughly seven hours to complete.
The test was chosen in May 2013, giving teachers 2 years to plan curriculum and prepare students. However, because the format of the test has never before been seen by students and covers extensive and difficult material, Oregon officials estimate that about two-thirds of students will fail the first year they take it.
“It’s scary,” said David Douglas curriculum director Brooke O’Neill. “People are definitely nervous about it—it’s that fear of the unknown and maybe a fear that it’s going to show that our kids are performing low. That said, we believe they are growing and our teachers are going deeper to help them reach the standards.”