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Idaho Still Has Current Issues With Common Core

One of the later adopters of Common Core as of January 24, 2011, Idaho has faced a tumultuous end to 2015. With scores on the state’s first assessment based on the Common Core coupled with parents fighting to have a say on opting out of the program altogether, the state is doing what it can to find a happy medium within such a complex situation.

 

Released Scores

In July, Idaho released the preliminary results of their Idaho Standards Achievement Test, one put together by Smarter Balanced, a consortium of states working together to create exams based off of the Core’s new standards. Unsurprisingly, the results were low. As a new test asking about higher standards, virtually all educators were expecting a dip in scores as both they and the children learn to adapt.

As it stands, only half of all students are proficient or more in both English and math. Critics ask for more information, such as figuring out how reliable the test actually is. Teachers are working to figure out how best to improve these grades come the next test. Because of this, most educators all but expect the scores to increase over time.

 

Released Controversy

Common Core is one of the nation’s most debated topics at the moment in regards to education. While Idaho has managed to get through the past four years relatively unscathed, this recent year has proven to be challenging.

In the latter half of this year, parents banded together to create a “parental rights” bill. This document was designed to require all Idaho schools to create opt-out processes for parents, giving them the legal right to shield their children from material they don’t agree with. Luckily, it was a bill that died in a House Education Committee hearing.

The reason this has been so frustrating for educators is the fact that student participation is directly tied to government funding. In an age where schools scrape the bottom of the barrel year after year, losing $57.2 million would be a crippling blow. Current law states that in order for Title I funding from the government to continue, at least 95% of all students in the state have to participate in the annual testing. If parents had gotten the bill to pass, this would have resulted in drastic educational harm in addition to severely increased taxes to make up for the deficit.

Crushing the bill, however, doesn’t mean that the educators of the state aren’t listening. Idaho’s superintendent Sherri Ybarra is doing everything she can to find a balance without sacrificing the funding desperately needed to protect the most vulnerable students across the state. For this, she’s putting her faith in a continually developing Core standard set that will produce great results in the future.

The changing face of education

At one time there were chalkboards, and the teacher wrote information in white chalk, so that it stood out against the dark green or black background. Today’s classes probably have smartboards, which enable them and their students to interact and engage with the board in numerous ways. A pencil and paper were once standard fare, as well. That was education then, but learning has turned a corner. Technology has changed the landscape of the classroom today, and it may never be the same.

computer-103577_640iPads are starting to emerge in classrooms. Before that it was PCs and laptops. Teachers can teach a lesson using all kinds of digital technology. This demands that they not only know and study the curriculum, they must know about different forms of technology and how to maximize them in the class. Consider the words spoken by John Dewey when he understood that the classroom would advance forward. “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow,” he cautioned.

Bell ringers, which are activities for children to start on upon entering the classroom, used to be projected onto a screen with a Buhl or similar projector. Now, teachers can go to various websites and find videos with short lesson activities that students can do by following a tutorial. This keeps the students busy while the teacher takes attendance.

Teaching vocabulary and spelling used to be an involved process. Sometimes the teacher would introduce the words on Monday or day one. For homework that day, students would write each word five times. On day two, the students’ homework might involve using each word in sentence. On day three they had to write the definitions. By Thursday they needed to study all that previous work in preparation for a spelling test to be taken the next day. This system was labor intensive and involved a lot of writing. Today, teachers are using sites like Spellingcity.com to mix things up. Students still have various forms of preparation for the spelling tests, but the options may include games, practice exercises and quizzes. On Dovewhisperer.com students can access vocabulary flashcards already created by others to help them prepare for tests and to incorporate the new vocabulary.

The volumes of encyclopedias that used to drive research have been replaced by internet search engines, and even digital encyclopedias.

Tests can be taken without a pen or pencil. In fact, with online learning, many students take their tests online and complete discussions and other assignments online.

Students today are blogging on subjects as part of the classroom assignment. They are also using podcasts, creating websites, taking virtual field trips and more. The integration of instruction with technology has been the driving force behind good instructional lesson planning for many years running. Furthermore, with common core curriculum, new testing protocol dictates that headphones be used. Headphones also show up in the classroom when students listen to taped lessons, practice vocabulary or listen to a recorded lesson from their teacher. It’s a whole new world.

Tech-Savvy Students are Likely to Succeed at Common Core Tests

Are you looking for an easy way to increase your students’ scores on Common Core assessments? Today’s education system is changing rapidly as schools begin to integrate new Common Core standards into their teaching and curriculum. Common Core not only changes the way that teachers teach various subjects, but it also changes the formats of tests. If your school hasn’t already done so, it will most likely soon replace its tests with high-tech digital assessments that align with Common Core standards.

kid-with-headphones-testingThese new Common Core tests are designed to test critical thinking skills, creativity, and communication skills. Students are asked to solve real-world math problems, compare and contrast information, and synthesize information from a variety of sources. We’ve indeed come a long way since the days of bubble sheets and number two pencils.

You may not even recognize Common Core tests are tests. They actually look more like online games, as the students take these tests on computers using headphones, and microphones. Many teachers, parents, and students are getting ahead of the game by familiarizing themselves with this new equipment. Students who are comfortable using computers, and related technology will likely perform better on Common Core assessments. Students who have mastered basic word processing will feel at ease with the new Common Core tests, and older students may even be asked to use spreadsheets, and understand graphical representations of data.

Having the best headphones for Common Core assessments is of the utmost importance. Most student and teachers prefer headphones with built-in volume controls. This is because many students who aren’t very tech-savvy may make mistakes when attempting to change the volume via the computer. Some studies show that students even accidentally exit the test when attempting to change the volume. In order to ensure that all students are comfortable taking these news tests, it is very important to have high quality computers, and headphones for the tests. Quality headphones that are easy to use, and include built-in volume control can help students with special needs excel at their Common Core assessments.