Education (Elementary and Secondary)
Elementary Education; Common Core; Mathematics; English Language Arts/Literacy
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“It’s time for the test,” is something that students throughout the nation hear quite often in school. Whether it’s a test for the classroom, the school, the district, or the whole nation, our students are frequently being tested on the information they’re learning. Since the No Child Left Behind Act was initiated in 2002, it has been a requirement that schools across the nation test their students in reading and math during grades 3-8 and high school. Each state was required to establish its own academic standards as well as a state testing system that met federal requirements. By the early 2000s, every state had developed and adopted its own learning standards that specified what students should know and be able to do. It soon became evident that the states needed a standardized way of helping their students achieve proficiency in the areas of Math and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). In 2009, the standardization came in the form of the Common Core State Standards. Since the Common Core has been developed, 42 U.S. states have adopted the standards. While testing is still different across most states, the expectations that students have to meet have become fairly standardized.
For my honors project, I focused on 5th grade in Rhode Island because that is where I was doing my student teaching. In the fall semester I spent most of my time observing the classroom and in the spring semester I’ve participated in full time teaching. I have been able to do research on the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exam and on how the Common Core State Standards are implemented in the classroom. I chose to create a lesson plan using a typical format to look at how we teach the Common Core State Standards. For me, the most important part of this lesson plan and research was the reflection piece. All students were supposed to be proficient by 2014 in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act.
However, through my research, I’ve found that les than half of the 5th grade students in Rhode Island are considered proficient or exceeding proficiency in both the ELA and Mathematics sections of the PARCC exam. In 2016, 38.8% of 5th graders in Rhode Island were proficient in ELA and only 2.6% were considered exceeding proficiency. On the Mathematics section, 30% of 5th graders in Rhode Island were proficient and only 4% were exceeding proficiency. Research shows that the percentage of students at proficiency or exceeding proficiency is slowly growing each year but we should be at a point where more than half of our students are at those levels. I’m hoping that this project and the research done will help myself and other educators better understand how to prepare students to be proficient on the PARCC test as well as in the Common Core State Standards.