Today being part of Education Week in Maryland, it is only fitting that we address a major issue that will impact our schools, teachers and students for years to come.
That issue is the introduction of Common Core Standards and the national test that accompanies it. (See the recent Washington Post article, 11/20/2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/md-gop-hopeful-david-craig-calls-for-exit-from-new-common-core-education-testing/2013/11/20/febf93f0-51e5-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html)
As Harford County Executive and a candidate for Governor, I call for the state's withdrawal from the Common Core national test due to a lack of clarity over how much the new system will cost, my concerns about test questions, and that only 9% of teachers in Maryland feel ready to implement it.
There are red flags going up everywhere threatening the statewide
K-12 education system and it's time to cut our losses now. The Common Core experiment has its own set of issues and the national test that is lumped in with it just compounds the problem.
What is happening is that the State Department of Education has embraced a federal education agenda that forces too many changes onto teachers and students at once and it is time to put the word 'Maryland' back into our schools.
As for the testing, The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which goes by the letters PARCC, is a national testing organization that received part of a $330 million federal grant to implement the test in 18 of the states that have adopted Common Core. Despite the federal grant, the organization estimates the cost to administer the test will be nearly $30 per student, at least $2 million more than the current state test which is being phased out.
So far, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah have opted to remove the test from their respective state classrooms.
The truth is, I have not seen one example of a government expenditure coming in below estimate. This is a floor of what taxpayers can expect to pay to implement the PARCC test rather than a ceiling. Let's see the bill because whatever the final amount due is, it will be coming out of the budget for teacher salaries, school supplies and building construction.
In Harford County Public Schools, we budgeted $18.5 million to implement the test. At a stop at a county public school classroom this week, I took note of the confusion over the wording of a test question that baffled the teacher, the student, and even me, as well.
This illustrates the problem with outside groups designing tests where there is no accountability in the classroom. When I was a teacher, we developed our own tests and our students then could measure up with any other student across the globe. We are making this far too complicated. Let teacher's teach!
David and Jeannie
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