Common Core Forces Thoughtful Responses

Grant Chudler, Staff Writer

A shift in standardized testing is on the horizon in California. The familiar STAR exam is being replaced with a new format called Common Core.

This overhaul of state and national assessment is unnecessary.

Though STAR mainly tests whether students have memorized facts, it remains an adequate evaluation.

Core will attempt to evaluate a student’s academic abilities more accurately than STAR, and will put more emphasis on how a student arrives at an answer rather than whether or not the answer is correct.

While Core won’t be completely implemented until the 2014-2015 school year, some are already exhibiting typical teenage apathy for new testing. Sophomore Evan Amsden said, “I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m not worried about it.”

Teacher Ken Ingersoll said juniors will be taking a practice version of the Common Core test this spring, and the sophomores will take a “mini pilot” of the test.

Ingersoll described Core as “much more based on writing and describing…listening and debating. Students will need to explain more about what they’ve shown conceptually instead of just providing the right answer,” he said.

Teacher Jay Chugh said little is known about the exact format of Core, as it’s still in an “embryonic stage.”

Chugh said the tests will be administered “digitally,” although “there’s going to be a grace period so that students can use pens and paper, because not all schools will be ready for each student having a computer.”

Chugh said the tests will adapt to the student taking the test. “You answer one question, and if you get it right, you get a slightly harder question. But if you get it wrong, you get a slightly easier question. It’s a test that reacts to how you’re doing on the test,” he said.

STAR is more “rogue memorization,” while Core is more “inter-disciplinary,” said Chugh.

Core testing will also offer more cross curricular content. Chugh explained how students “could have science with a non-fiction passage.”

The adaptive nature of Core is interesting, and it seems to evaluate students more precisely. Having questions that involve multiple subjects looks to be more effective in testing students. The emphasis on critical thinking would be helpful to me as a student, but I still prefer the STAR test.

My reasons for preferring the STAR are selfish.

I’d like to get the standardized testing over with as quickly as possible. I just want to do what is required of me and be done with it. While there are a lot of questions on the STAR test, I can mindlessly get through them.

Core seems like a lot more work.

Junior Julia Giovanni called the prospect of the new test format “interesting.”  Giovanni said “its easier to think creatively. They [the STAR] sometimes try to trick you.”

I think we are all getting tricked.  Too bad we don’t have a choice between a trick or a treat.