Subjectively Scored Assessment Would Compromise National Standards

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One essential question following the recent release of the so-called Common Core education standards is: How will students be tested for what the national standards-setters deem to be critical for them to know and be able to do?

Standards mean little without assessments. High-stakes testing will drive the national curriculum.

Parents might well prefer that assessments objectively measure their children’s factual knowledge while also showing how their schools stack up against comparable schools by tracking individual student growth on standardized test scores.

But every indication is that America’s families stand to receive something far different. Kids in every state adopting the national standards and national test will be subjectively scored by teams of anonymous evaluators on how they respond to open-ended questions with any number of real right or wrong answers.

Multicultural activists will be pleased, even if everyday parents probably won’t be. For decades, they have been advocating replacement of fact-based, multiple-choice testing with an evaluation of students’ cultural competence and commitment to global world views.

While the standards-writing consortium was advertised to be a state-led, “voluntary” effort, high-powered and politically-driven policymakers already are laying the groundwork for what they are touting as “next-generation assessment systems,” which, they assert, will be an authentic gauge of students’ ability to work in teams and solve real-world problems.

The federal government is rapidly becoming the dominant force in this drive toward a national curriculum.

After promising states an edge in winning a slice of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RttT) fund if they signed on to Common Core standards, President Obama recently said he now wants to require states to adopt these standards as a condition for receiving aid from Title I. That $14.5 billion program is the centerpiece of the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Last weekend, Obama released a “blueprint” for his hoped-for 2010 Congressional reauthorization of ESEA.

Next, the Administration has committed another $350 million to produce the national test linked to those standards. A major first step came last month when the organizers of the Common Core Standards push

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