Switching up the Standards

By Avery Naughton, Photo By dave_mcmt

            Around campus, you may have heard that there will be no STAR test this year, much to the delight of most, if not all, students. However, do you know the reasons behind this state-wide change?

            This year, Canyon Crest Academy is switching to the Common Core State Standards. This is the first year that California will implement the Common Core, which ideas it adopted in 2010. The Common Core represents not only a state-wide shift but a nation-wide one as well, with 45 states joining in on the changed standards. The Common Core was primarily constructed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief of State School officers.

            The major reason towards the push for the Common Core was that graduating students appeared unprepared for college and the work force. The Common Core standards, according to the Common Core Mission Statement, "are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and kill that our young people need for success in college and careers."

            As past standards, the two main components of the Common Core and English Language Arts and Mathematics. The English Language Arts requirement, as past requirements, focuses on the reading comprehension ability of students. Despite encouraging students and schools to read a variety of classical and contemporary works in order to prepare for the real world, the Common Core "intentionally [does] not offer a ready list." The other major component of the Common Core, writing, focuses on the students "ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, ... and relevant evidence." The mathematical component of the Common Core, on the other hand, emphasizes utilizing mathematical interpretation to "analyze empirical situations." These new goals, as previously stated, are designed in hopes that high school graduates will be better prepared for college or a job. A new addition to the Common Core that differs from previous requirements is a technological component which hopes to fully incorporate students into the modern technological age.

            Although the Common Core may not appear to have any immediate impacts on Canyon Crest, the goals of the Common Core are firmly established. Rick Schmitt, the superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District believes that the Common Core improves upon the standards that are currently in place. Schmitt explains that the new "MAPP assesments, while likely not perfect, do measure student learning through multiple models rather than purely through multiple choice tests which emphasize recall of information with the CST's."

            However, don't get too excited about not having to take a standardized test this year. New assessments will be finalized and administered during the 2014-2015 school year. Several of these new assessments include MAPP tests which are computer-based and administered to eleventh grade students in both English Language arts and Mathematics. The MAPP tests are tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that Schmitt explains "require[s] us to thoughtfully evaluate our curriculum and instructional and assessment practices in order to identify and accomplish necessary shifts" as Canyon Crest and the rest of the district shift to the Common Core standards. Although the transition to the Common Core is work-in-progress, the final outcome should benefit high school students throughout California.