The Core Problem: A College Student's Perspective on The Common Core Testing

Even as a college senior, I can still remember waiting for responses from the colleges I had applied to. I also remember that this long, agonizing wait was too much to bare for some of my peers, some of whom realized during this time that they should have taken the necessary steps to improve their grades during their time in high school and wished that they had a wake up call.

The new wave of Common Core testing is an attempt at this wake-up call, but a failure nonetheless. The Common Core, which according to CBS Newshas been adopted by 45 states, is a federally backed and funded examination and method for teaching and grading K-12 students. The "core" of the Common Core is to raise the bar for students' K-12 performance and better prepare them to be successful during college. The testing itself, however, sets standards that are very unrealistic and honestly impossible to reach. The test throws misleading and somewhat unanswerable questions at students in efforts of raising expectations for them and their own expectations for themselves, but instead throws these students into a world they have no knowledge of because they were not given any support to help them understand what they are seeing on this examination.

Reaching higher is not a crime and most of the time it can be the difference between Barry who cleans cars and President Barack Obama who now runs the United States of America. Unrealistic standards, however, have adverse affects on students, especially those who are young and/or at risk. The staple of The Common Core is that is prepares students for college; however, the affects of it's brutal testing hinder this.

As a college student, I know firsthand that any form of standardized testing is an inaccurate form of measuring one's performance in a higher-education setting, because the learning style and environment is so drastically different from that of any K-12 institution. If students believe that performing poorly on a Common Core test is determinant of their future, they will develop the idea that they are not "cut out for" or "meant for" college and higher education. This will, therefore, lead to higher rates of K-12 students not pursuing higher education and create a serious divide between the students who "can do the Common Core" and the amount those who cannot.

The impossible questions on the Common Core test as well as the comment made by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that "white suburban moms are mad that their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were" will send a message to our K-12 students that they just aren't good enough to reach higher throughout their education, let alone pursue college. The way to help students to reach higher is to provide students with individualized support based on their career interests, decrease class sizes, cut out unnecessary material from curriculums, refrain from offering funding for states to adopt a federally backed educational plan that does not honestly fit the needs of their students. Most of all, we should give them the support they need in order to prepare for college instead of blindsiding them with trick questions and misleading narratives that will serve to confuse certain children more or less than others and serve as an agent in diving our students from the earliest stages of their lives.