Educational standards refer to the learning objectives regarding what learners should know and capable of doing at diverse grade levels. The standards assist teachers in ensuring that the learners gain the competencies and information essential for success. Additionally, the standards facilitate teacher’s efforts in assisting parents comprehend teachers’ expectation of the learners (Chaucer, 2012).
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It is on these backgrounds that ‘Common Core’ (CC) was founded. Fundamentally, CC comprise of a set of precise college- and career-ready values for nursery school children through the 12th grade in English language arts (literacy) and mathematics.
This essay explores how common core and standardized testing issues impacts foreign language teachers and their teaching profession. It offers a direction on how foreign language teachers can react and handle these issues.
Common Core and Standardized Test
The CC standards were designed by state education heads, governors, teachers and experts across 48 states seeking to offer learners equal platform for all students across the country. The CC would enable learners to prepare adequately for college, occupation and life in a uniform manner with high standards of quality education. Two subjects were selected for the accomplishment of the CC standard goals.
These are English language and mathematics. The subjects were purposely selected considering that they form the foundations on which learners form skill sets that are mandatory in all the other subjects (Chaucer, 2012). Learners must know how to read, write, talk, pay attention and utilize language efficiently in a multiplicity of content areas for easier internalization of all the other subjects.
The standards were designed by state education heads, governors, teachers and experts in education curricula. The CC standards stipulate the literacy abilities and competencies essential for college and career preparedness in a variety of disciplines for foreign students.
It is imperative to recognize that literacy standards in science, social studies and practical subjects for six to twelfth grades are aimed at supplementing content standards in those fields as opposed to replacing them (Harris, Smith, & Harris, 2011).
Standardized testing is important considering that high standards that are unswerving across all states offer teachers, parents and the leaners a set of vivid expectations. The approach ensures that all learners acquire the competencies and capabilities essential for success in college, occupation and life after graduating from high school irrespective of where they live, their family background, race, gender, sexuality or eco-justice.
The CC standards in intergration with standard testing align to the anticipations of colleges, employees preparation programs and employers. The CC standards play a central role in ensuring equity for all learners. The eventual standard testing guarantees that all the learners are adequately prepared to cooperate and compete with peers in the country and overseas.
It is imperative to acknowledge that unlike preceding state standards that varied extensively from state to state, the CC standards facilitate cooperation among states on a variety of tools and programs (Harris, Smith, & Harris, 2011).
The CC was established by advancing the best state standards from different states. The best standards were integrated. Additionally, the designers examined the expectations of other excellent-performing countries globally. The designers included teachers, education experts, district education heads and school administrators.
They prudently studied the researches and literature obtainable regarding what learners required to know and have the capacity to perform for success in college, occupation and life.
The designing panel did not require any state to lower the expectations for learners when implementing the CC. The empirical-based standards were designed in discussion with teachers, parents and education experts transversing the country. Therefore, the CC are realistic, practical, useful and viable for the classroom.
Common core and standardized testing effect on foreign language teachers
Any change in how education is handled affects a variety of stakeholders. These include governments that have to invest more resources in form of finances and human resources. Others that are significantly affected are teachers, parents and the learners. The parents and teachers require changing their perspective in view of previous systems.
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However, teachers are greatly affected considering that they may have undergone a different system hence require changing their approach to teaching as well as their mindset to embrace the new system. The examination of the pros and cons of the CC and standardized testing will generate a clearer mental image of the effects of the CC particularly on teachers.
High education standards are important for individual learners if they are to be competitive in college, the increasingly competitive workplace and the increasing life challenges. The CC standards present learners with the opportunity to be competitive irrespective of where they live. The standards ensure that learners are excellently prepared to cooperate and compete with others in the country and globally.
Consistent Goals and Benchmarks
Common Core standards provide teachers with unswerving objectives and benchmark parameters. The parameters help teachers in ensuring that learners are developing on a route for success in college, occupation and life. The approach is essential since it places all the learners on the same platform that ensure that none is at a disadvantage.
In any case, the CC ensures that all the learners receive the best education competency that allows them to advance in college work and career irrespective of their physical location after high school. Additionally, the goals and objectives are not based on any aspect that reflects inequality such as gender or eco-justice. The learner breed that will emerge from the CC standards will be equally competent.
The fact is based on the fact that international benchmarks were utilized in designing the CC standards. One technique of analyzing education systems is the comparing of international assessments. These include Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Before the advancement of the CC State Standards, study revealed outstanding resemblances among the values in high-performing countries. There were stark variances between those world-class anticipations and the values embraced by most US states (Ryan & Frazee, 2012).
Interviews conducted with teachers who have embraced the CC standards indicate that the CC provides teachers with unswerving expectations for learners who transfer into new districts and class settings from other states. Previously, the state standards varied widely. Learners who transferred from a state with different standards presented teachers with difficulties in the classroom.
Furthermore, learners encountered enormous challenges in catching up with other students particularly when they moved to states with higher state standards.
The CC offers a platform where students who move find no difference in the curriculum and the teaching approach giving teachers an easy time. The teachers can now expect students in the same grade to perform as well as others irrespective of the state of origin provided that that state has adopted the CC (Ryan & Frazee, 2012).
Opportunity to Collaborate
The states that have adopted the CC utilize a common curriculum in English and mathematics. The expectations of the designers is that all the students learning under the CC can communicate at the same level and solve similar mathematical problems as long as they are in the same grade.
Similarly, teachers across the country are presented with the opportunity to collaborate as they share a common platform for preparing the curricula. The opportunity to collaborate arises since the teachers develop syllabuses, materials, and tests connected to high-quality standards (Ryan & Frazee, 2012).
Prior to the design, adoption and implementation of CC by the practicing states, teachers were trained in accordance with the state standards. These teachers faced challenges when they moved to other states. They had to undergo retraining to conform to the standards.
The introduction of the CC allows teachers to freely move to other states where they can advance their professionalism in higher learning institutions outside their state of origin. They can attend teaching and other courses on part-time basis while still teaching in the local schools (Ryan & Frazee, 2012).
Despite the various advantages that the CC standards present to students and teachers, there exists the downside for the same. For example, Professor Grabar (2014) indicates that if all poetry, writing and gesticulations are correspondingly treasured, there is no need for literature instructors.
Therefore, she argues that the CC standard approach is a distortion of the idea of equality. She asserts that the designers’ pursuit of eco-justice invaded rational judgment and scrupulousness. Equality of mortal opportunity ought not to be confused with similarity of outcomes (Grabar, 2014). Other literatures examine the disadvantages of the CC standards and standard test pointing at the flaws that exist.
Before the commencement of CC standards, foreign language teachers found and continue to find it difficult to adjust to these standards (Manley, 2012). Teachers have to change the approach on how they teach to meet the set standards. The approach makes most of the teachers to take a step-by-step approach in dealing with students. They make alterations in their mode of teaching.
It becomes more complicated considering that the learners have to change their ways of learning. The CC standards, therefore, place teachers in a more difficult position to meet the stipulated standards.
The results of common core standards on foreign language teachers require sufficient time. However, once the teachers have adapted to the common core standards, the teaching process will be more efficient. The outcomes will be evident.
The instructors and teachers will prefer to pursue other career options that they may have if they find the set standards difficult to adjust to (Taylor, 2014). Many foreign language teachers may not accept to change the way they teach and, therefore, will pursue other options elsewhere.
Those that may be unable to find alternative career options will even prefer to retire than change their mode of teaching to meet the set standards (Kendiall, 2011). They may find this as a means of relieving themselves from the stress of coercing student to perform to the set standards.
The CC standards will also affect foreign language teachers in the sense that children will learn faster at a younger age. Teachers will have to up their game in teaching than they were doing before (Kendiall, 2011). Children will have higher level of thinking skills and this will make them learn at a faster rate.
The aspect requires foreign language teachers to be more articulate, charismatic and observant on how they teach. They must ensure they teach what the students need to know and not what they already know. The skills that students used to learn at higher grades will subsequently be taught at lower grade causing challenges in terms of teaching the foreign languages.
The world is ever changing and so is the learning process which is even more dynamic. Therefore, it may not be appropriate to use set standards over and over again. There are circumstances where the entire learning system, process or even the language itself has changed and yet teachers still use the set standards (Mandel, Shanahan, & Wixson, 2012).
The change factor is closely interconnected with the effect of transition difficulties. The direction and magnitude of change is unpredictable, therefore, presenting challenges in foreign language teaching.
How foreign language teachers deal with common core standards issues
Evidently, despite the fact that the CC standards have presented benefits to learning as a whole, they also present diverse issues to foreign language teachers. These issues affect the world language classrooms as a whole. It is, therefore, imperative for teachers to understand how they can react to these issues.
More paramount is for teachers to comprehend and be innovative in the way they can resolve the issues. However, dealing with the issues is beneficial as opposed to maintaining the existing tradition state standards.
Foreign language teachers ought to reflect on what learners can do with the language to deal with the CC standards issues (Taylor, 2014). The outcomes of what the students can do with language should be taken into consideration. The teachers should not just focus on how the languages should be taught or the mode of teaching. They should also have the capacity to examine the students’ communication mode.
Through this approach, the teachers will be able to determine how well the students can use the foreign language. The teachers will know the level of understanding of the students and the skills they have when it comes to using foreign language.
Communication is one of the ways of determining how well a person is versed with a particular language. They should ensure that they are not seeking to breed learners who are equal in all aspects. They should strive to ensure that they breed learners who are competent despite their dissimilarities.
Fundamentally, CC standards are critical in ensuring that all students have an equal platform to learn in college, succeed in their careers as well as in life irrespective of other curtailing factors. It is imperative for foreign language teachers to have the capacity to solve the teething problems that accompany the introduction of any change in education systems since the learning, workplace and life environments are changing.
Inherently, the benefits of CC standards to the wellbeing of learners and the teachers outweigh the disadvantages. The standards ensure that teachers can advance their profession while learners can move to other states while experiencing minimal change in curricula expectations. The states and teachers who embrace the CC standards present the learners with better opportunities to be globally competent.
Foreign learners face challenges in grasping all the proposed aspects of CC standards with regard to English. They encounter obstacles as they grapple with first learning English yet they are further required to be as articulate and charismatic as the indigenous.
Chaucer, H. (2012). A creative approach to common core standards. Phoenix, Arizona: R & L Education.
Grabar, M. (2014). Education without representation. Retrieved from https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/education-without-representation-rebutting-5-claims-of-the-utah-state-school-boards-flier-46/
Harris, P., Smith, B. M., & Harris, J. (2011). The myths of standardized tests: Why they don’t tell you what you think they do.. Chicago, Illinois: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Kendiall, J. (2011). Understanding common core state standards. New York, NY: ASCD.
Mandel, L., Shanahan, T., & Wixson, K. (2012). Teaching with the common core standards for english language arts. Raleigh,North Carolina: Guilford Press.
Manley, R. (2012). Making common core standards work. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.
Ryan, S., & Frazee, D. (2012). Common core standards for high school english language arts. New York, NY: ASCD.
Taylor, R. (2014). Leading, teaching and learning the common core standards. Chicago,: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.