Defeated by the Common Core State Standards

Tears in his eyes.  My 3rd grade son was waiting in the foyer when I arrived home from work.  His eyes were filled with tears, and he looked terrified.  I had a panicky feeling because I thought something was really wrong.  I asked him why he was crying, and he proceeded to tell me that he got a 100% on his social studies test.  I was elated because we worked really hard for two days studying the different landforms!  But, he went on to tell me that he got a 33% on his math test and a 62% on his reading test.  He told me that he was worried that he would fail third grade.  My stomach dropped.  I felt sick for him knowing that he was obviously devastated by his low grades.  He did not even seem excited at all about his 100%!   How sad that a child in third grade was this upset about his grades even though neither my husband nor myself have ever pressured him about getting good grades.

My 3rd grader has struggled in school for a few years now.  Inconsistent grades in reading and remaining pretty static in math.  He has failed every single math test since first grade. Every. Single. Test.  Imagine the feeling he has as he prepares to take the next test already knowing that he will not do well.  My heart breaks for him and all the other children that are struggling with the new math concepts and applications.

My son has had wonderful teachers that have worked hard with him, but he just doesn’t seem to get it.  The light bulb is not going on for him.  He tries hard and completes his work but can’t seem to grasp the concepts being taught.  It makes me sad to think that the Common Core has defeated my son.  This new curriculum has turned my happy, outgoing, not stressed kid into a high anxiety, cry before school kid.  I am angry that the system that Governor Cuomo has set up has failed my son; the modules are confusing and not age appropriate.


What has changed?

The Common Core State Standards have changed the math curriculum and made it much more challenging for the students in many grades.  So challenging that if your child struggles with concepts, they are left perplexed and broken.  Plain and simple.  The children that are high achievers and normally do well will be okay because they are able to understand the information being presented.  The average achieving students must work harder to understand it, but they will eventually get it.  Unfortunately, the lower achieving students are completely lost and overwhelmed.  Of course this is not the case for everyone, but in my experience with my son this is what I am seeing.

Problems that were once solved by a basic math operation now require you to show work and explain how you got the answer.  I understand the theory behind all of this, but for some kids this is confusing.  I realize that the way I was taught to just do a problem but not really understand the “why” behind it is now replaced by fully understanding why we do things.  But, when applying this to word problems that are four steps long in third grade, some kids are shutting down before they get step one completed.  That is my son.  He rushes through the test missing even basic questions because he is so lost and frustrated.


State Testing

For those of you that do not know, third grade is the first year students will take the ELA/Math State tests.  These 8 and 9 year olds will sit for extended periods of time reading passages and answering questions that are ambiguous and confusing.  They will be required to read multiple step word problems with names of people that they cannot even pronounce.  They will do this for three days one week and three days the following week.  AND the teacher will be scored on each child’s growth.  Growth on a third grade test…how can that be shown if this is the first year taking a state test?  The teacher must predict what each child will get based on the scores from the local tests they are given the first month of school!  Yes, I said predict!  The last time I checked, teachers were not fortune tellers!  Let me also clarify that the local assessments are not at all parallel to the state tests!

The state tests do not define my son; therefore, he will not be taking the third grade test this year.  His anxiety is so high already that there is no need to push him over the edge.  He will not benefit at all from sitting and taking a test that is so over his head that he shuts down.  The test is not beneficial for his teacher because the results are not used to remediate him. The scores are not actually sent out until the following September.  There is no good reason that I can think of for him to be subjected to the NYS testing mess!  My son is much more than a test score, and I refuse to allow his spirit to be completely broken at 8 years old!

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23 thoughts on “Defeated by the Common Core State Standards

  1. I commend you on your decision not to have your son take the 3rd grade state tests. I wrote about it in my blog. I used to feel like I was leading the lambs to slaughter. It was all I could do to help the special needs kids I proctored get through the tests without running out of the room. I hope blogs like ours get the word out that this kind of testing is unacceptable.

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  2. What a sad post. I am so sorry your third grader has been subjected to this torture at a place that should be a safe haven. In my own experience, if students weren’t understanding a concept, I felt like I had to “sneak” to teach them in a different way so they could understand. And heaven forbid if I should not be on the same page as my teammates because I slowed down to help students. One size does not fit all!

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    • Thank you for your comment. I am grateful that my son’s teacher has been remediating him whenever she can…she is working hard to help him. You are right…one size does not fit all. This is what is so frustrating with the CCSS! Not every child learns at the same rate, and the CCSS is not differentiated for the different levels in a classroom. I am hoping that with more people speaking out, more people will notice and fight back!

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  3. This is truly tragic. Thank you for writing this very painful account of what is happening to your son. I, too, am a teacher and I worry each and every day about my own grandson who is also in third grade. Keep writing and revealing the true story behind corporate education reform.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I will keep writing to make more people aware of what is going on in our educational system. The lower elementary grades seem to be getting hit pretty hard with developmentally inappropriate standards. I feel so badly for these little ones that are calling themselves “stupid” and “dumb” because they can’t do things that they really should not be expected to do at that age anyway! It is very sad.

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  4. It is not just the tests, it is all of common core. My grandson started having problems, even cutting his closes while he was wearing them, sick to his stomach, stress headaches, all because of common core. We must all work to stop this from harming our little ones and stop common core and the insane testing.

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  5. My heart is breaking and I have tears in my eyes. No child should ever feel this way this young or at all. I am so proud of you and applaud you for writing this blog. I value your leadership in your position and as a mother, you are doing the best that you can every day for your children and always, always, always go with your gut instinct. Praying things get better for your son.

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      • Hello again ! !
        I read some of the lessons. A very traditional approach to the teaching. Some good stuff but some heavy handed approaches to the content, and some horrors:
        1kg – 500gm (this on a homework sheet)
        Oh dear, the units are different, complete misuse of the minus sign.
        Teacher shows the class a beaker with 57 milliliters of water in it.
        How did she do it??
        Child knows 5×3 and 2×3 so can use this knowledge to find 7×3, and of course write it down as 5×3 + 2×3 = 7×3 . . . . this is grade 3 !
        What happened to multiplication as repeated addition?
        5×3 is 15, I want seven times 3, that is 2 more threes, so add 3 and add 3 again. Isn’t this a more appropriate approach for grade 3, even I think like this.
        Nowadays we are not supposed to have to learn our tables – so we do skip counting instead – what is the difference? well, by the time you have skip counted in 4’s to 36 you have forgotten how many steps you took !!!!!!!!!

        Anyway, I have a new follower, Professor Scott Baldridge, who is one of the authors of the EngageNY scheme.
        Here is the link to his latest post:
        http://scottbaldridge.net/2015/02/23/fluency-without-equivocation/
        I think you should leave the text of your post as a reply, and, again, see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it is a very traditional approach to teaching. Some of the curriculum is good, but overall I think it is poorly written. It seems to make basic math operations into a more complex idea which easily confuses the children. They might understand how to do it the “easy” way, but that will not get them credit because they have to show the long drawn out way! Also, there is no differentiation in the lessons. And the teachers are on a very tight timeline, so there is not a lot of wiggle room to spend more days on the concepts that the kids are not understanding. Thank you for the link to Professor Baldridge’s blog….I posted my blog address in my comment to him 🙂

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  6. Pingback: Defeated by the Common Core State Standards | Jolyn's Education Corner

  7. I see this everyday in my third graders eyes. I teach third grade Science and Social Studies in Tennessee. I was moved to third grade after teaching kindergarten for ten years. I was moved for being vocal about the damaging effects of the Common Core and abusive testing in kindergarten. I fear the goal is to move me around until I give up and quit. They have made it clear that teachers are to be compliant and quiet. I refuse! I now see the stress in the eyes of my third graders. I literally see it in one beautiful little girl in particular. You see she has plucked her eyelashes out from the stress of it all. I am heartbroken and sickened by what is happening in our schools and feel helpless most of the time…

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