According to a
new EdWeek/Gallup poll, roughly two-thirds of superintendents across the country support the new Common Core-aligned assessments (PARCC and Smarter Balanced), and an even higher percentage—73 percent—support the Common Core State Standards, calling them “just about right” for most students. While we depend upon our instructional leaders and teachers to implement the new standards and assessments, superintendents are often the bridge between the policy ideals and the reality in the classroom. As a result, they provide valuable insight on this discussion. One of those superintendents is Tim Farquer of rural Williamsfield Schools in Illinois, and
he writes on PARCC’s website about how the move to new standards and assessments has energized kids and given valuable instruction time back to teachers and students.
Test prep programs spend time teaching students how to find the correct answer or increase their odds of guessing correctly. A vast majority of schools embed these activities into the daily school day in an effort to improve their state test scores. These activities take time away from real teaching and learning in the classroom.
By moving to standards and assessments that focus on critical-thinking over fact-regurgitation, all classroom time is focused on learning the content and none is spent on bubble-sheet drills. Or, as Farquer puts it:
Here at Williamsfield Schools, the most significant thing we are doing to help our kids prepare for PARCC assessments is developing their ability to think.
Farquer also comes from a family of educators and is the father of three school-aged children. He offers a compelling personal perspective on the value of higher standards that are backed up by better tests.
Simply put, we are working together to inspire continual growth in our kids…. As a father of three children who will take PARCC tests, I can proudly say, this is a valuable use of their time.
Michael Vaughn was the founding Communications Director of Education Post. Prior to that, Mike worked for 18 years in the communications offices of two urban school districts. He served in a variety of communications roles for the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1996, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of CPS, and eventually served as the district's Communications Director until ...