Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Common Core Potential Problems! (English)

I walked in the classroom expecting to completely hate the Common Core English test... but that expectation was not completely fulfilled. The English section appeared much like any other standard English test with these two exceptions--and problems.

The Common Core Listening Exercise

So there I sat on a cold, cold morning, staring at nothing but questions based off of an auditory recording about the ability of some website to predict college futures. There were four volumes: Blaring, Really Loud, Loud, and Mild-but-loud-enough-for-the-person-beside-you-to-hear. The entire concept of listening to a recording irked me ever so. The speaker was really fast and annoying, since it applied strange intonations at the wrong time like: It's ability was quite staggering?? when the sentence was obviously a statement. I couldn't read along to any text, so I had to quietly shut my eyes and listen into oblivion. What if an earthquake happened while my eyes were closed and my ears occupied? What if my things were stolen while I concentrated something as stupid as this? Please, Common Core, are you going to reimburse me? I think not!

This kind of exercise was also extremely wasteful, as the district had to provide earphones for every student to make it a "fair" test. Look, if it was a "fair" test, you wouldn't give the same test to both regular English speakers and ESL students. Obviously the English learners will do much more poorly in the auditory exercise because they're not familiar with that English accent the speaker's got going on. To top that all off, the earphones must have either been really cheap quality (to save money) or really expensive (wastes money to buy all that)--either way, they both sucked. My personal earphone came dysfunctional straight out of the bag so I had to rely on iPod earphones, but come on! What if a student who didn't have the luxury of iPod earphones received a pair of broken 'phones? Does s/he automatically fail the 8 listening questions on the Common Core? 

The Common Core Conclusion Free Response

The Common Core came with this funny little question group known as a free response conclusion in which the student reads an article and types the conclusion. This is definitely an open-ended question--the number of responses would be endless! How does a computer grade this sort of response? What defines a correct response, considering how there's a definite answer to the question "What evidence did you use to support your answer?". You gave me four stupid lines from the passage that I did not use to support my answer. How can there be a correct answer for that? If there is one, would that imply there is a correct conclusion? That sure sounds like it.

Sigh... the Common Core. :[*


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Common Core Failures! (Math)

As the first wave of students assigned to "test" the Common Core, I feel obligated to pass to future test-takers a honest and uncut opinion of the test: It sucks. From online research to from word of mouth--and now to from personal experience--I finally understand why the Common Core is getting all this hype hate.

Let's review the math section of Smarter Balance! 
(Note: all questions shown below are real test questions/test formats that I've memorized from taking the test... a test that took a whooping 2 hours for 20 question quiz in a run-down, dusty-old computer lab that is obviously much less important than an experimental test. >.>)

Problem 1


In each of the first d days his website was online, Kenneth received an average of 18 visitors. In the next d days, Kenneth received a total of 46 visitors.

Find a, the average of number of visitors to visit his website on each of the first two d days online.


Seems pretty clear, right? Yea--totally! The average of number of visitors to visit on, of, online... >.> Overuse of prepositions, dude. Someone obviously didn't do too well on the SAT Writing portion. :]

However, let's anticipate Common Core's justification for its question and say it's our fault--that perhaps we didn't understand it because we were too tired... or careful... or stupid ( P: ). 

Great. So let's play stupid.

But what's up with "Kenneth received a total of 46 visitors", man? Too stupid enough to understand what the question is even asking, we certainly cannot blame ourselves for an ambiguous word phrase! What does "total" even refer to: the number of visitors during the next d days only OR the grand total of all the days combined? 

I took the liberty to solve the question both ways, considering that I had a freaking 2-hour block to take the test.

d1 refers to the first d days; d2 refers to the next d days. Sd1 is the total number of visitors during the first d days; Sd2 is the total number of visitors during the next d days.

Case 1: "Total" is the number of visitors during the next d days only, meaning Sd2 is the given 46.

Case 2: "Total" is the grand total of all the days combined, meaning the given 46 is S(d1+d2)--the sum of all the visitors during the entire period--and 46 - 18d would be Sd2.

All right. Everything is done and dandy. Just choose the correct answer from the choices, right?


Both answer choices were in the word bank. Common Core must think giving ambiguous questions a fun sport, for certainly half the people will do the math correctly and choose incorrectly. What's the point of naming the testing the "math" portion if it tests you on interpreting the question?

Let's look at another.

Problem 2


An online auction charges sellers a fixed fee of f dollars for each item they sell. They also charge p percent of the final selling price of each item.

What is the total charge, C, for selling a single item if its final selling price is d dollars? 


Yea... right. This is crazy. Are you telling me the sellers charge a percent of their own final selling prices because that's what this sentence is saying right now. The online auction is singular ("charges"), so certainly "they" must refer to something else... dollars? No. Sellers? That's the only possible thing.

I mean, come on, Common Core. No one is going to take you seriously if you can't even use your pronouns correctly. I better not see this mistake on the English portion or no one is going to think you're a professional test... ever.

Problem 3

The last little bit of the test is a question type that I find incredibly irksome. While I didn't memorize the exact question, I remember the gist of it.

Test-takers are given the following:

Which of the following equations is true for all x values? Check Yes for those that are, No for those that are not.

So we solve the equations, no problem. (I've noticed the Common Core really likes grouping. Haha.)

But... but what's this?! I can check both Yes... and No? What... did you like run out of money to program this thing correctly, because an equation cannot logically be true and not true for all values at the same time. 

Blah! You can literally check both boxes for this question. I just found this really insulting.

"Hehe, maybe the student can't figure it out! That way s/he will check BOTH the answers and get it wrong anyways!"

--Or whatever the logic is for implementing this answering system. 

The Common Core is a mess.


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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day!

Here's a new Valentine's Day card!

Go back to cards.