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Common Core blows up testing [Letter]

State officials deeply vested in new Common Core curriculum mandates and tests want us to believe that marked student declines on state tests since Common Core moved into place aren't Common Core's fault ("MSA warning signs," July 14). Even though Common Core is supposed to be more difficult than previous tests, so far it is not causing children to ace the old tests. Rather, it's been the opposite. That's very odd.

But there are two big, interdependent problems with the scenario now playing out in Maryland schools. The first is the lack of an independent instrument for measuring whether Maryland schools objectively decline through and after the switch to Common Core which is ongoing and will take several years. The National Assessment of Education Progress, a no-stakes, reliable test, will change as a result of Common Core. So will the SAT. So when all the new Common Core tests come out, it will be extremely difficult to tell whether it really has helped children do better because all the goal posts will have moved.

The second problem is that in the five, six, or even more years that everything switches over during which we have little reliable information about the effects of all this on children, every child in Maryland will have gone through approximately half of his or her school career. If Common Core is not actually good for children, the damage it has done during the time it took for us all to figure that out will be irreversible.

Joy Pullmann, Chicago, Ill.

The writer is an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute.

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