We recently discussed the current standings of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in this country, and highlighted how some of our initial concerns are proving to be true.
We left off outlining the overly intense standardized testing process. It’s important to understand that the stress these tests have caused is tangible and long-standing. Kids and parents have become so stressed out, states have begun propaganda-like campaigns in an effort to put families at ease.
The state of Maryland even promoted a campaign claiming parents should expect their children to have “a little headache” as a result of taking the PARCC exam. The campaign also encouraged parents to feed their kids well, and even allow them to “wear the same clothes all week” in an effort to help them “do my best” on the PARCC exam.
Dissension in the Ranks
From its advent, CCSS has raised the expectations on teachers and students. While this isn’t normally a bad thing, especially given our nation’s education system is falling in rank yearly, the implementation of CCSS was too much, too fast, and poorly planned in most states.
When we put our focus on passing PARCC exams rather than raising the standards of academics and learning to benefit our nation’s children, we fail as educators. And with teacher retention, salaries, and school funding closely tied to standardized test performance, it is clear that our focus is in the wrong place.
Around the nation, groups are spurning an opt-out movement — as one grassroots leader says, “to restore real learning.” But, a new and surprising opposition force has arisen from the inside: teachers. Teachers all over the nation are coming out against the CCSS, exposing the struggles and harm the CCSS and standardized tests have brought upon their students.
They’re protesting all they’ve lost as a result of CCSS — funding for the arts, long test practice sessions that take away from precious class time, and parent support. The National Education Association (NEA), which supports teacher unions around the nation, has begun a campaign to end what they’re calling “toxic testing.”
Through articles, advertisements, and TV spots, the NEA is exposing the deep problems with the exams by giving a voice to parents and teachers. One television spot actually shows parents discussing the harmful effects and concerns they have with the exams.
Homeschooling Under Attack by CCSS
We had hoped the CCSS wouldn’t impact homeschooling families or threaten the right to home educate our children. But, the CCSS has proved to be a political octopus whose tentacles have reached into every sphere of education, including the home. It seems Diane Ravich’s 2013 prediction was correct, “no one will escape their reach.” But just how has CCSS seeped into the homeschooling sphere and what can you do about it?
- Know your rights to opt out of state testing. Many homeschooling families will be told they are required to take state standardized tests. But families can often opt out for religious or personal reasons. It’s important to know your rights as homeschoolers and to exercise them if you feel the standardized tests are not in your child’s best interests. Better yet, start or join a local grassroots movement so you can have a broader impact on the CCSS and stop the damaging impact of the “toxic tests.”
- Find curriculum not aligned to the CCSS. In an effort to stay profitable many curriculum publishers beloved by homeschooling families have aligned to CCSS including Saxon, Calvert, Addison Wesley, and Khan Academy. The good news is you can find a detailed list of publishers who have fully aligned or correlated their curriculum to the standards here. The tireless work of one homeschool mom in creating this CCSS curriculum database called The Common Core Project, can help you make an informed decision.
- Review the ACT, SAT, and college requirements as they are all aligned to the CCSS. It’s very possible your child could be at a disadvantage when taking college entrance exams if you do not fully understand how those tests have aligned to the CCSS requirements. The best way to prepare your student is to practice, practice, practice! Because homeschooled students are often more able to think critically, there’s a good chance your student will be fine. But, get informed and be sure to work through any gaps so your child is fully ready.
Anyone who discussed CCSS must be truly honest and say we do not know how far this monster can and will reach. The good news is there’s a way to fully protect your family from the CCSS: accreditation. Working with an accredited homeschool institution like Bridgeway Academy ensures that your family retains the power over your child’s education and whether or not you want to align to CCSS. We can help you find a way through the CCSS and standardized testing storm as you stay safe under the umbrella of our accreditation.