A controversial new way to test students is about to start in area schools. Students in our area and across Illinois will put Common Core to the test.
It's the standard students now have to meet.They no longer take the ISATs, the standardized tests students took for decades. Now they have to take Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test and it is not without controversy.
Across the county, some parents and students are upset by common core.
"We're nothing but test scores."
"It tests family income, family levels of education," says Dave Wilson, parent.
Common Core is a set of standards. The idea is to have uniform instruction in subjects like math, reading, writing, science and social studies across the country. The test focuses on critical thinking.
"We live in a world where higher level thinking, reading for understanding, being able to support arguments with evidence are more and more important. It's not just can I remember things the teacher taught me so the common core standards are relying measuring our abilities as learners to have higher level thinking," says Dan Woestman, Rockford Public School, assistant superintendent of accountability.
Third through 8th graders, along with some high schoolers, will take the PARCC test. School leaders tried to prepare parents for a likely dip in test scores from their students. Last year, Winnebago and Boone county schools saw a significant number of students fail to make standards as they tried out some of the Common Core questions. There will likely be similar results this year and for the next few years until students and teachers have more practice with Common Core.
"On a day to day basis people don't ask me things I remember, they ask me to solve problems. So Common Core state standards really identify students ability to solve problems and that critical thinking that they are going to need to have later on," says Woestman.
PARCC testing is underway at Haskell School in Rockford because it's on the year-round schedule. Testing for more start next week.