Schools Bracing Themselves for New, Tougher Common Core Tests

Students in 29 states are taking the Common Core tests for the first time this spring. A few years ago, one school in Washington, D.C., changed how it prepares for standardized tests, adopting home visits, pep rallies and new curricula to give students a boost. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza reports on how the educators and students are getting ready to handle the more challenging tests.


Why would a school need a pep rally to motivate students to take high-stakes tests?

The answer is simple, but the powers-that-be, who have never worked in schools, will never grasp.

In many states these tests are meaningless to students, but they mean everything to schools and teachers. What kind of an accountability system is that?

Kids “Christmas Tree” tests and teachers and principals are fired. Schools are labeled “failing.” The students who can change schools leaving only the poorest and disenfranchised behind. Eventually “failing schools” are closed.

Relying solely on the good will of their students, schools are forced to waste valuable instructional time in a desperate attempt to encourage students to take the tests seriously. This may work for a while, but when students go years without meaningful feedback from these tests, they begin to understand that the tests are a waste of time. By the time they reach high school, the scam has run its course and students are particularly difficult to motivate.  Experience has taught me, that once students have a stake in the outcome, the game changes. Instead of us wondering how to motivate students, we began planning on how we would get food to students who spent hours on an Algebra tests.

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