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Let’s stick with one system for a while

The results are in for the first round of testing using the new Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is supposed to be a more difficult test using higher standards.

Overall, district officials are optimistic, scoring higher in some areas — mostly language arts — than expected. Meanwhile, scores in math were lacking across the board.

While other results, like those of Perrydale fifth-grade students, were completely lost.

Last year, we suggested that it was too soon to put yet another testing system in place. In the last eight years at least, the standards and testing systems have changed in our K-12 schools, whether changing the definition of “meets” or “exceeds,” to redefining the entire system of standards through the adoption of Common Core.

It isn’t just confusing for the public, it has to be confusing for teachers, parents and students. How can a student be expected to keep up with the expectations, or help a younger sibling with their homework, when the methods of teaching and what they are learning are constantly changing.

It creates an environment of survival in schools rather than encouraging creativity and hard work. Changing the system each year — standards, testing, curriculum and grading — makes education mean less.

What’s worse is the Smarter Balanced Assessment is two-faced. On the one hand, it is allegedly testing whether or not kids are ready for college or a career. On the other, kids do not have to be ready for college or a career to meet graduation requirements. State regulations means a student can score “level 2” on language arts or math and be ready to graduate, when, according to the test itself, a student is not ready for college or a career unless he or she earns “level 3” or “level 4.”

To make matters even more complicated, students can do other assignments to show they understand the material to qualify for high school graduation, making the test all but meaningless.

We know not all teenagers are slackers, but if you were asked to take a test for three to four days, and y our knew it had no bearing on your future, how hard would you try to pass it?

With this information, it is difficult to take the test results with more than a grain of salt.

All that being said, it would be really nice for folks to just settle down and try keeping somethings the same for a few years. The test is far from perfect, and the fact that it doesn’t really matter to a child’s future means it is good they have the right to opt-out. The Common Core State Standards are not terrible, though some parents and members of the community are not satisfied with the way they are being taught.

What’s more important than finding the “perfect” set of standards or curriculum is some sort of consistency for our schools and students. After all, our children are not laboratory animals to be experimented on year after year.

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