It’s a no-brainer: Take the Common Core test

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Student and parent fear over the new Common Core standards and testing is baffling.

The new test in the spring of each year must be taken by students in third through eighth grades and by high school juniors.

It’s true that many 11th-graders who are bogged down with other testing such as the SAT and ACT might prefer to pass on Common Core. But the Common Core test does not require outside preparation and should not be viewed as a burden on the juniors who must take it.

The individual scores derived from the test are used by teachers to help identify gaps in learning and teaching.

They become a measuring stick that tells educators how effective their new curriculum has become and how each student is responding.

At Calabasas High School, unfortunately, 70 percent of juniors opted out of the test last week, as is their right under state law. Las Virgenes School District, however, could be penalized for the low participation because, unlike the students, the school district has no choice in the matter.

It is obligated to administer the test and gain as much student participation as possible. If students continue to opt out, Calabasas High could be branded a low-achieving school.

Conversely, of the 608 juniors at Adolfo Camarillo High School, only 10 have opted not to take the test. Likewise at Rio Mesa High School, only 7 of the school’s 490 juniors declined the test.

Lisa Brown, the director of curriculum and assessment of Oxnard Union, said the numbers are low because the ACT and the SAT are moving to adopt test formats similar to Common Core’s, so many look at the Common Core tests as practice for the others.

Common Core curriculum and testing are not some crooked scheme aimed at mining personal data, as conspiracy-minded groups are saying. (Under the guidelines, student privacy is not at risk in any way.) Nor is it an attempt by Washington, D.C. to federalize public education, as others have claimed.

The new standards are actually more flexible than previous standards, and they give teachers more freedom in how they choose to cultivate their students’ educational growth.

Common Core encourages student collaboration, which is valued as a real-world way of solving problems.

For example, a teacher will introduce a problem or a concept and students will discuss the idea in pairs or groups as they try to find a solution. Only then do the students write an essay or devise charts to explain their thinking.

Common Core is a good thing, designed to push students to be more critical, analytical thinkers and become better prepared for college and careers.

It’s a no-brainer. Take the test.

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