Many billions have been spent, and continue to be spent, promoting the Common Core Standards and their associated consortium tests, PARCC and SBAC. Nonetheless, the “Initiative” has been stopped in its tracks largely by a loose coalition of unpaid grassroots activists. That barely-organized amateurs could match the many well-organized, well-paid professional organizations, tells us something about Common Core’s natural appeal, or lack thereof. Absent the injection of huge amounts of money and political mandates, there would be no Common Core. The Common Core Initiative (CCI) does not progress, but neither does it go away. Its alleged primary benefit—alignment both within and across states (allegedly producing valid cross-state comparisons)—continues to degrade as participating states make changes that suit them. The degree […]
About Richard Phelps
Richard P. Phelps is editor or author of four books: Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, 2008/2009); Standardized Testing Primer (Peter Lang, 2007); Defending Standardized Testing (Psychology Press, 2005); and Kill the Messenger (Transaction, 2003, 2005); and founder of the Nonpartisan Education Review (http://nonpartisaneducation.org).
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has released a report, Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments, ostensibly an evaluative comparison of four testing programs, the Common Core-derived SBAC and PARCC, ACT’s Aspire, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ MCAS. The latest Fordham Institute Common Core apologia is not so much research as a caricature of it.
Author and career testing expert Dr. Richard Phelps writes that adopting PARCC would result in a one-half year drop in performance expectations for 4th grade math and reading, and 8th grade math, in Massachusetts. He also argues that critics of MCAS misunderstand its intended purpose, and explains why this is problematic.
This report concludes that revising and updating MCAS would result in lower costs and more rigorous assessments that would provide better information about student performance than adopting PARCC.
However, the greatest harm to higher education may accrue from the alignment of the SAT to Common Core’s high school standards, converting the SAT from an adaptable test predictive of college work to an inflexible retrospective test aligned to and locking in a low level of mathematics. This means that future SAT scores will be less informative to college admission counselors than they now are, and that the SAT will lose its role in locating students with high STEM potential in high schools with weak mathematics and science instruction.