Photo Credit: Ethan BlochPresident Barack Obama’s goal of holding all students across the U.S. to the same high academic standards may be on the verge of unraveling as states take a hard look at the more rigorous tests under development — and balk.
Backed by $360 million in federal grants, some 40-plus states have spent the past three years working with testing companies to develop math and language arts exams tied to the academic standards known as Common Core. They’re minimizing the dreary fill-in-the-bubble multiple choice in favor of more challenging tasks. Kids as young as third grade, for instance, will be asked to write essays synthesizing information from multiple nonfiction texts and to explain their reasoning on math problems.
Yet now that the new tests are almost ready, state officials are complaining that they’re too long and too costly and require too much computer technology. They’re also beginning to push back against the exams as an unwanted federal intrusion on local policy, echoing a groundswell of opposition from tea party critics of Common Core.
Georgia dropped out of the testing collaboration on Monday, saying it would create its own exams instead. Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah have already withdrawn. There are strong indications that Florida and Indiana will be next. Other populous states are also teetering. The Michigan Legislature has effectively nixed the new tests by blocking spending on them, though the ban may be revisited next fall. New York is officially undecided but it’s already spending heavily on alternatives. Texas and Virginia never signed on in the first place.
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