How Common Core Testing Damaged High School English Classes

Helping my students understand how my role as a college literature teacher differs from the role of a high school English teacher is a sometimes daunting task.

Closeup of a person's hand pulling a book off of a shelf.Preparing students for a standardized reading test is completely unlike teaching them about a work of classic literature. In an English class addressing The Great Gatsby, depending on student ability and prior knowledge, the teacher might take several weeks to help the students find their way through the work, followed by a period of discussion and reflection to dig a little deeper before finally embarking on a large project (paper, presentation, interpretive dance, etc.) that would take days to complete and would, the teacher hopes, show how the student can connect several different threads from the work.

Contrast that with a standardized reading test like the PARCC or SBA (tests developed specifically to check for how well teachers have been teaching the Core standards). The student is given an excerpt of a few paragraphs cut free from the context of the larger work. Then the student is required to answer some questions (likely multiple choice) about those paragraphs right now. No opportunity to reflect or connect to a larger context. —Forbes