Two years ago, during my freshman year, I sat in my biology class watching a video in which a monotone fictional character made a fool of herself during a job interview by answering each question again and again with, “I choose C.”
The video we watched was my first introduction to the growing education system known as the Common Core. Being the kids we are, we all mocked the video, mimicking her ridiculous responses. But I remember going home slightly upset from this video as to what is was implying. Did the state really think our generation was that clueless?
But after reading different articles about the changes that the system hoped to apply, I changed my perspective about the concepts behind the new standards. I decided to give it a second thought. I started to accept its ideas and believe it was the best option to finally fix our education system since it suggested it would incorporate more creativity and critical thinking rather than just bubbling in Scantron after Scantron after sitting through endless lectures.
When the 2014-2015 school year came around, I was expecting less multiple-choice questions and more debates, projects, and creativity. And what did I get? I got the same as every other year: Scantron tests and never ending lectures. While some classes did try to incorporate the new standards such as oral pop quizzes in chemistry and Socratic Seminars in English, I, along with almost every other student, felt that I was not receiving the so-called new education. While some teachers did try, they too were unsure as to what they were expected to do when we had been so accustomed to memorizing and bubbling in answers.
Towards the end of the school year, when the tests were first administered in California this last spring, there were still mixed reactions from faculty and students alike expressing that they felt they were not prepared for its rigors. Upon completing the exam, with a few minor technical glitches, administrators were content with the outcome yet still saw room for some positive reinforcements.
Out of the two English and Math portions of the test, high school juniors students shared that the math portion was the most confusing section because of the formatting and/or the difficulty.
Because I am a year younger than the juniors that completed the exam this year, I did not personally complete the test. But after talking with administrators, proctors, students, and teachers, I realized that there were actually two sides to the story.
I have to admit that the state has some valid points for the Common Core system. However, my major concern is how it is being applied in the classroom for students not used to this approach.
I tutor two of my peers, and when I work with these people I often find myself having to read the new common core material beforehand because I am simply confused as to what some of the questions are asking me. When I compare the new books to the homework from the geometry class I took nearly three years ago, I find that they are quite different in their approaches, and not necessarily for the better.
Although I am by no means a professional educator, I have firsthand experience in the changes taking place in my school system. I can see that the program has good intentions and is worthwhile with some middle school and high school students beginning to adapt to the new layout; I can see that with the proper preparation it may one day be successful.
Unfortunately, I feel that I am personally not prepared for this change just yet. I believe that it would be more effective if the new testing had started earlier in order for students in my grade, who have yet to take a class adhering to these standards, to be comfortable with the new format. Until then, I hope the state provides high schools with more resources to be successful instead of leaving my grade behind to test out this standardized test without the proper background.
Written By: Madeleine Britt
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