Parcc: person against required crude curriculum

We’ve all heard about PARCC and Common Core over the past year. States, under pressure by the federal government, are adopting these standards and tests. PARCC and Common Core are bunched together in this article since they both came at roughly the same time. The results of this “ experiment” have been dreadful.

There has been national outcry, and for good reason. Here is my take, as a student, on this issue… My first experience with PARCC came this past spring in the third quarter of school. In past years, we would take one week off from instruction for our state test, and that would be it for the entire year.

Now, we take three weeks off, with an additional week in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind that PARCC stands for “ Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers”. By effectively taking out one month of our learning time, PARCC is not getting us ready for “ College and Careers”. It boggles me as to why we must take the test on computers. There are many problems with this.

For me, the math equation editor was very difficult to use, and sometimes lagged. The parentheses were programmed so that it was only possible to enter ordered pairs inside. The editor has two different fonts, and randomly switches between the two. It is also impossible to control which font one wants. In addition to the technical details, many schools just don’t have enough computers to test everyone at the same time. At my school, we are fortunate enough to have laptops in every room.

However, other schools may not be as privileged, as I have seen during my frequent trips to other schools around the state for academic bowl. Imagine only having four desktops in a room and trying to test twenty students. Doing the test on paper would be much easier, and would save the hassle of the math equation editor. To me, as a test-taker, it seems that the question-writers didn’t really pay too much attention when writing the PARCC. For example, during the extended-response section for math, the directions read “ Show your work OR explain how you got your answer”. It is very difficult to understand whether they want me to choose an option or do both.

I took it literally and picked the first option. There were also occasional typos. If we’re expected to perform our best, then shouldn’t the test-makers live up to their own standards? Parents’ voices are also lost in Common Core (CC). Some parents have been arrested and thrown out of meetings for objecting to CC, as was reported in Baltimore by the Huffington Post. It is ultimately up to parents to decide what is best for their children, and CC takes that away from them.

Even educators cannot make this choice; the schools are being pressured to adopt CC. America loves to celebrate diversity. Stereotypes are frowned upon, and we teach our kids to “ recognize differences” and be open to new things. CC has taken that all away by installing a one-size-fits-all education program. Students in Grade X must know A, B, and C, otherwise, they won’t be promoted to the next grade.

This type of curriculum assumes that all students are the same, and in doing so, forgets that children learn at all sorts of different paces. In addition, CC standards are set much higher than previous standards. In fact, they are about one to two grades higher, especially in the area of math. This creates an unfair advantage to younger students, as other students one year ahead of them will effectively have one less year of schooling. In our quest to create a centralized, uniform curriculum we have actually messed up the normal order of progression.

And, finally, the most important problem of CC, in a legal sense, is that it violates the 10th amendment to the Constitution. It runs: “ The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Basically, any powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution are left to the state governments or the people themselves. The Federal government is violating the law of the land by pressuring states to adopt CC. In addition, they have created a “ Race to the Top” program, which is basically bribery for states to use CC in their schools. As a student, I have been very frustrated with CC and PARCC, and so have my teachers. They have decreased the quality and fun of school for all, and I hope that soon we will all realize the failure of CC and PARCC.