Common Core Rhode Island Standardized Testing

Rhode Island: PARCC Testing Is Designed to Confuse Students

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Carole Marshall and Sheila Ressger, both retired teachers in Rhode Island, report that the PARCC test was poorly designed and does not measure what students know and can do.

They write:

“While RIDE [Rhode Island Department of Education] insists that the PARCC is a high-quality test, what has been created is instead a test that values a caricature of critical thinking — overly complex, ambiguous questions that are intended to “catch” students. Those who doubt it can google “PARCC sample tests” and see for themselves. Countless adults with advanced degrees have testified that many of the Common Core worksheets and PARCC sample test questions are confusing to the point that even they cannot determine the “correct” answers. English language learners, students with disabilities, and students living in high poverty neighborhoods are particularly hard hit, but all children are hurt by the testing.

“The basic problem is that the PARCC tests are aligned to the Common Core standards, which ignore developmental learning. The stated purpose of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC tests is to “raise the bar,” under the theory that our children need to be reading far more complex texts starting in the earliest grades.

“They have certainly raised the bar; noted literacy expert Russ Walsh reports that the passages are about two grade levels above the readability of the grade and age of the children. He also reports that while Common Core proponents are claiming that the standards and testing call for a higher level of critical thinking, most questions following the PARCC Language Arts passages have a very narrow focus, and can actually be answered without a firm understanding of the text. Thus, scores on the PARCC don’t in any way reflect what children are truly capable of….

“Here in Rhode Island, representatives of RIDE have acknowledged that the grade level expectations of the Common Core do not align with the expectations of previous standards. In other words, material that used to be taught in fourth grade here may now be taught in third grade. Imagine last year’s second grader who was doing well in all respects. Now in third grade, this student is expected to perform at the fourth grade level on the PARCC without having ever been exposed to the foundation of third grade work.

“Another major problem is that Pearson and RIDE have decided that all children will take the PARCC online if at all possible. Young children are being rushed to learn keyboarding skills for testing. During the tests last spring, while working on an exceptionally long and confusing series of tasks, children were also required to perform functions such as scroll down, switch back and forth, and drag and drop items, as well as type into boxes. There is no way to measure how much impact all of this had on their ability to understand the passages and the questions.”

Common Core testing is reenforcing a false narrative of failure by “raising the bar” so high that most children will fail. These decisions were made knowingly. Those who decided on this cruel policy should be arrested for child abuse.

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