PARCC is inspiring a movement
The fight against standardization rages on after the first weeks of Common Core testing have gone underway. For many parents, however, this is just the beginning of a long battle against the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers (PARCC). You could say PARCC is inspiring a movement – parents and educators against Common Core and its related high-stakes assessment. This new movement has gained a lot of steam and that’s a good thing for the education reform movement.
The new fight against PARCC and common core has developed into grassroots movement propelled by concerned parents who refuse to allow their children to take the “high-stakes Common Core tests,” according to the Washington Post. Common Core and PARCC testing seem to have become the single unifying issue that numerous education reform groups are united against. This would include teachers groups like The Badass Teachers Association, unions like the AFT, and parent groups like Ohioans Against PARCC.
This movement is kept alive by concerned parents like Amy Broerman. For Broerman, this is not just an issue of whether standardized tests are proper measures of a student’s ability to perform, but it is also an issue of practicality. “The number of days that teachers spend preparing for it. The number of days that school will be disrupted so that kids can take the test…I’m opting out only because it sends the strongest message,” said Broerman in an interview with ABC9 (source).
Parents like Broerman share their concerns about the test along with teachers and school district officials who claim that there could be negative effects when it comes to standardized testing on social media sites. These websites and Facebook pages hope to create a public forum for individuals to share their ideas. One of these sites is the widely popular fightthecore.com which queues up resources for parents to research Common Core and keeps a blog running for updates on standardized education. It also allows parents to contact state legislators via email.
Veteran teacher Jennifer Philips from Colorado informs parents and other teachers about the harms of over-testing and the discrimination that comes along with Common Core in an interview on her YouTube channel. “Common Core is not built for everyone. [The PARCC] have a particular population in mind, and that is not okay,” said Philips. The PARCC test does not officially or explicitly have accommodations for students who do not speak English or have learning disabilities. Students who need more time on the test, larger print, or have instructions read to them will not receive the accommodations they need to be successful when taking the exam. Philips stands in solidarity along with other teachers and parents when it comes to standardized tests like Common Core. “Testing has gotten to the point that this is all our job as teachers is now: test preparers. Our students are learning mathematics, they aren’t learning the beautiful grammar of our language. Instead, they’re learning how to take a test, and that is a huge disservice to our students and the future of education,”
According to the Core Standards website, “The Common Core State Standards give states the opportunity to share experiences and best practices, which can lead to an improved ability to serve young people with disabilities and English language learners. Additionally, the standards include information on application for these groups of students.” Surprisingly, education professionals were amongst the group of business people and “experts” who helped to develop the standards; however, none of the professionals were special-education experts. Even so, the test was adopted by 45 states in the US, according The Atlantic.
In addition to not meeting the needs of children with disabilities and ESL learners, many question the tests’ effectiveness in assessing typical learners. Parents are bothered by the length of instruction time spent preparing for the test, educators are annoyed by the stress the test puts students under and the use by policy makers of the test’s results to determine teacher quality, and many taxpayers are becoming annoyed by the high cost and low results increased testing brings. This general malcontent has created one of the largest, and most unified national protests around education reform in quite a while. The level of engagement of parents, working hand-in-hand with educators is awe-inspiring. And seeing unions fighting for the issues without a lot of political rhetoric, adds hope to the belief that the Common Core standards, and PARCC testing will see significant revisions, if not disappear altogether – replaced by a more education-focused standard that assesses student’s comprehension and retention, not their ability to memorize; and allows teachers to teach with test results leveraged as a tool for improvement rather than a case for admonishment.