New Standardized Tests Teach Lessons in Stress & Confusion

draft Stephen Colbert: New Standardized Tests Teach Valuable Lessons in Stress and Confusion

Why did an elementary school math problem go viral? It has to do with a new set of federal education standards known as the Common Core.

Last month, a second grader's math quiz went viral. On the quiz was a question that took one student's father two hours to solve. The frustrated father—who holds a bachelor's degree in engineering—posted the quiz on Facebook with a note to the teacher calling the question ridiculous. The question was written to fit within the new Common Core standards, the Obama administration's answer to education reform.

Common Core: Teaching Stress and Confusion

In the video segment above, comedian Stephen Colbert says he's coming to see the value of Common Core standards. Why? Because they prepare kids for what they'll face in adulthood: "pointless stress and confusion."

Architects of the Common Core math program say the second grade standards are designed to ensure that kids can add and subtract numbers up to 1,000, use models or drawings to solve problems, and explain why addition and subtraction methods work.

Opponents of Common Core say the quiz shows how the standards create unnecessary complications and confusion in the classroom, among other problems.


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Since the Common Core standards for math and reading were released in 2009, they have been adopted by 45 states. For the last four years, educators have been struggling to translate the standards into functional curricula.

Some critics accuse Common Core of "dumbing down" the education system, but these seemingly simple standards are proving hard to implement. And the product of some educators' attempts to write lessons and tests based on the standards can be downright bewildering.

This article originally appeared on YES! Magazine


rusk mollyAbout The Author

Molly Rusk  is a recent graduate of the program in Creative Writing at the University of Washington and an online reporting intern at YES! Magazine.


Recommended Book:

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools  --  by Diane Ravitch.

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools  --  by Diane RavitchReign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.​

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

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