It’s been five years since Oregon adopted the Common Core standards and only this year took their first standardized test based on this new set of grade graduation requirements. As far as the state is concerned, though, it has given nothing but support and continues to provide this support as its teachers have adapted and pushed forward with this more rigorous set of learning standards.
Common Core Positivity
As a state not embroiled in Common Core fighting, Oregon news on the subject remains as unbiased as possible, doing its best to portray the adoption in a more positive light. When searching for news, Oregon is one of the few states to not have a “Parents Against Common Core” website populate one of the first results. It’s a shocking difference to anyone that has actually spent time reading about this issue.
State Exam Negativity
Though teachers and parents are accepting of the Core, it’s the state exams that have recently proven to be a problem. Known as PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the standardized test has been created by representatives from each state to test students to the Core standards. Unfortunately, the implementation of this new test has led to some rather upsetting growing pains.
According to a survey released November 2015, many in Oregon’s teachers union are very concerned about this new test. Interestingly enough, though, it’s not about their students’ abilities to succeed. Instead, it’s more about the lost instructional time. One of the main examples used in this expression of concern revolved around “Raoul”, a Spanish-speaking student that had trouble reading but loved his wood shop class. Because of the testing, his time spent woodworking was severely decreased, so much so that during one testing phase, he simply clicked random answers to be done with the test while choking back tears.
However, this didn’t stop the testing from proceeding as planned. On top of the time sink, this year’s testing results have also shown just how many students aren’t at a college-ready level. In fact, only two-thirds of the state’s students read well enough for higher education while less than half have the math skills required. The state found that the usual low-income/high-income discrepancies are still there, with the economically struggling having the hardest time.
Not all hope is lost, though. In one school, teachers were able to virtually destroy this disparity, equipping over 80% of its lower income students with the education needed to achieve success in college. According to the teachers there, it’s all about showing the students how they can use what they’re learning in real life. If citations lead to a bigger allowance, kids will listen.