Connecticut Common Core Standards: Myths and Facts
It is critical to the success of every child to dispel any myths regarding Common Core and Smarter Balanced. The Connecticut Department of Education has developed
some myths and facts for use by board of education members,
superintendents, public information officers, and other stakeholders to
help clear the air of fiction.
Myth: The federal government developed the Common Core State Standards.
The federal government did not develop the Common Core State Standards.
The desire to develop higher, shared standards was expressed by states
early in 2007 at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO)
Annual Policy Forum. State education chiefs and governors, through
their membership in CCSSO and the National Governors Association (NGA),
led the development of the Common Core State Standards. This timeline
and background document outlines the process for the development of the
tests represent a new federal intrusion into education and will result
in the collection of intrusive and inappropriate data on children.
Fact: For decades
Congress has required assessments of student learning for
accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The 2001 reauthorization of ESEA, known as the “No Child Left Behind Act”
enacted during the Bush Administration, expanded those federal testing
requirements to include state testing of every student in language arts
and mathematics in grades three through eight and once in high school.
In 2010, the federal government funded the State of Washington to act
on behalf of a consortium of states to develop new, next-generation
assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English
language arts/literacy and mathematics. While federal funding currently
supports the research and development work of the Smarter Balanced
Assessment Consortium, all policy decisions about the structure and
content of the assessments are made by the member states based on input
from stakeholders across the country. At the conclusion of the federal
grant in September 2014, Smarter Balanced will become an operational
assessment system supported by its member states. States will make all
policy decisions with regard to the collection, storage, and use of
student assessment data. Smarter Balanced will adhere to all federal
and state privacy laws.
Myth: The Common Core prevents teachers from teaching literature.
standards do not limit reading to non-fiction, but suggest a balance
between perspectives. Recognizing that teachers, school districts, and
states should decide on appropriate curriculum, the standards do not
offer required reading lists. They establish what students need to
learn, but do not tell teachers how to teach so they can tailor
instruction, allowing for continued flexibility and creativity. Related
resources:“The Role of Fiction in the High School Language Arts Classroom” by Susan Pimentel and David Coleman and “The Common Core Ate my Baby and Other Urban Legends” by Timothy Shanahan.
Myth: These assessments will result in standardization of teaching and learning.
founding principle of Smarter Balanced is that teachers and students
need high-quality data, tools, and resources to support improvements in
student learning. Smarter Balanced isn’t just an end-of-year
accountability test. It is an assessment system that features flexible,
non-secure interim assessments to be offered at teachers’ and schools’
discretion throughout the school year and a digital library of formative
assessment tools, practices, and professional development resources
built by teachers, for teachers to improve the quality of information
collected through the daily classroom activities of assignments,
quizzes, and observation of student work. The end-of-year tests will
help schools evaluate how well their students performed by comparing
their aggregate data with aggregate data from other schools across the
nation. The end-of-year assessments also will empower students and
parents by providing them with a clear indication of how well their
children are progressing toward mastering the academic knowledge and
skills necessary for college and career readiness.
Myth: Nothing is known about these new tests.
Balanced aims for complete transparency. All of the key documents
describing the assessment (content specifications, item specifications,
item writing training materials, test blueprints, accommodations
framework, achievement level descriptors, technology specifications,
etc.) are available to the public on the Smarter Balanced website (www.SmarterBalanced.org).
Myth: These new assessments are untested.
Balanced has incrementally tested the content of the assessment and the
technology that will support the assessment. Smarter Balanced has
Individual students provided feedback to test developers about their
experience with the innovative test questions, accommodations for
students with special needs, and the testing software.
Small-Scale Trials: Promising types of questions and software features were further tried out with hundreds of students.
Pilot Test: Students at about 5,000 schools across the Consortium responded to a preliminary pool of test questions and performance tasks.
Myth: These tests will require advanced technology that schools don’t have and can’t afford.
Smarter Balanced assessment is being designed to work with the
computing resources in schools today. The assessments can be offered on
very old operating systems and require only the minimum processors and
memory required to run the operating system itself (for example, the
summative assessment can be delivered using computers with 233 MHz
processors and 128 MB RAM that run Windows XP). Likewise, the file size
for individual assessment items will be very small to minimize the
network bandwidth necessary to deliver the assessment online. For
example, a 600-student middle school could test its students using only
one 30-computer lab.