Common Core State Standards - The precursor to testing the crap out of kids

Common Core State Standards - The precursor to testing the crap out of kids

Educators are becoming more and more familiar with and learning about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). What they might not realize is that CCSS is really code for constantly testing the crap out of kids. As a result the publishers and politicianswho designed them reap the rewards. Politicians have pretty charts and numbers they can use as talking points and publishers like Pearson rake in enormous profits.

Meanwhile these same politicians and publishers have been yapping about how the new standards and assessments will be so much different and better. Some had visions dancing in their heads of standards that were customized to student who would choose their own way to demonstrate mastery.

Then poof!

Reality hits. The dreams shot down.

I was perusing the EngageNY site which is a teaching and learning clearinghouse designed to support New York teachers, principals, administrators, and Network Teams in rolling out the Common Core State Standards. It is there that I learned they just released the sample questions for ELA and Math. Kids will be asked to show mastery so they can progress to the next grade. I looked at these tests and thought, dang, I'm glad I'm not in school.

Here's a snippet of each:

Excerpt of the reading passage:
No persuasions or enticements could overcome her fear, till, the fact coming to Mr. Laurence’s ear in some mysterious way, he set about mending matters.

Example of a math question:
A trainer for a professional football team keeps track of the amount of water players consume throughout practice. The trainer observes that the amount of water consumed is a linear function of the temperature on a given day. The trainer finds that when it is 90°F the players consume about 220 gallons of water, and when it is 76°F the players consume about 178 gallons of water.

Part A: Write a linear function to model the relationship between the gallons of water consumed and the temperature.
Part B: Explain the meaning of the slope in the context of the problem.

I couldn't answer the questions on the math test the way that was expected nor had any of this math ever been necessary for my success in life. I looked at the ELA test and thought, wow, a whole generation of kids will forever have the joy of reading sucked right out of them (read #6 for Alfie Kohn's thoughts).

Then I had a few more thoughts like...

  • Why are we taking the job of assessment from the ongoing work of teachers and handing it over to publishers? Some will say that's because we can't trust them. If that's the case, figure out a way to fix that rather than spend BILLIONS on these tests and stress out kids. I mean do we really trust the politicians and publishers that are imposing these tests upon us more than teachers anyhow?
  • Why is all assessment a test?There are such better ways to assess students and it should be done as a part of what kids do in the classroom.
  • Why does everyone need to know the same thing?I don't know or want to know this math and I'm doing just fine.
  • Why is the ELA language so dang white and who talks like that today?Why not allow students to respond to passages that they've already chosen to read that are meaningful, relevant, and/or of interest to their worlds?
  • Why aren't more parents opting their kids out of testing?
    You can opt out in most states. There's a group on Facebook for each state. Find yours in one of two ways:
    1) Type in the search on Facebook: Opt out of State Standardized Tests - Your State
    i.e. Opt Out of State Standardized Tests - Ohio
    2) Go to the page url: i.e.

This sucks. Kids deserve better. What will we do about it?

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.