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Portland News Site Fails on Common Core and Testing

An online news site in Portland, Ore., recently covered a story about the local teachers union making moves to boycott testing. The story, however, misses the mark several times:
Opposition to the high stakes test in the Common Core curriculum, the Smarter Balanced test, has been growing among parents, teachers, and education advocates.… Smarter Balanced is no more “high-stakes” than the existing OAKS test. The accountability stakes are the same. Beginning March 10, Oregon students will take the Smarter Balanced test, designed to try their knowledge of the new curriculum.… In 2010, Oregon was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core curriculum, intended to improve students’ chances of success in post-secondary education. The curriculum, which puts a heavy emphasis on demonstrated critical thinking, is adopted on a state-by-state basis, but the same tests are written nationally. 1) Definitely not “one of the first”: By our count Oregon was #38.2) These aren’t “national” tests—they were also developed by the states.
Since the author wrongly calls the Common Core State Standards a curriculum a whopping total of six times, it’s worth pointing out once again: Curriculum is the actual classroom content that teachers choose. The standards, on the other hand, are the overall learning goals. They should certainly be used to inform curriculum, lesson plans, and instruction—all of which are determined at the local level and in the classroom—but the standards themselves are, without question, not a curriculum.

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