Study reveals math teachers' views on CCSS-aligned tests

Posted on Tuesday, 10/29/2013 5:53 PM

It's no secret that the Common Core State Standards are the cause of much controversy across the country. No matter how great of an impact the Common Core could have on the American education sector, there will always be opponents to the standards, as well as the new assessments that have been created to go along with them.

The tests, which include the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Assessment, are computer-based with questions designed to reflect the CCSS. Not every state that has adopted the Common Core is onboard with the exams, as evidenced by Florida, which withdrew from PARCC in September, according to a news release from the office of Gov. Rick Scott.

Every opponent of the CCSS-aligned assessments has an opinion for a different reason. The results of a recent study from researchers at four universities provide insight into a sample of teachers' views on the new tests.

Concern over the tests' impact
In the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, the University of Rochester and Washington State University Tri-Cities, responses from 366 middle school mathematics teachers were taken into consideration.

What these educators' responses revealed was that more than 90 percent of them think the new assessments will have an impact on how they teach, as well as how they are evaluated. As most instructors want to keep their jobs, those who agree with this statement may shape their lessons to reflect the CCSS-aligned tests.

"This is a challenging time for teachers, given the changes the Common Core Standards represent for most states in terms of the mathematical content, the incorporation of the Common Core Standards in state assessments, and the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations," said Jeffrey Choppin, associate professor of mathematics education at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education.

Potential damage
Should educators teach to the new tests, they may be diminishing the true impact of the CCSS. The Common Core is designed to take instruction to a deeper level. Whether instructors embrace modern technology, such as tablet computers and student software, or just introduce new ways of thinking about a concept, adjusting lessons for the sake of better teacher evaluations could prove detrimental to the quality of pupils' education.

"In order to better support and ease the transition for teachers - and their students - as schools continue to adopt and implement the new standards, it's important that we understand the emerging issues and concerns related to the new standards," Choppin said.


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