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The Solution

And, yes, I believe this is THE solution to testing craziness, but first read this USA Today article on Lee County's decision to opt out of testing.

I will be clear: Common Core is a set of standards. It is not the curriculum that determines how those standards are taught, and it is not what decides how much progress monitoring and testing is done.

I believe that we need FEDERAL guidelines for MINIMUM graduation requirements, for MINIMUM standards that all states must demonstrate students meet in order for students to receive a high school diploma.

These MINIMUM standards should NOT include include the assumption that all students are going to college but should include what students need in order to graduate from high school.

In addition, I recommend that cut scores be determined based upon ACT, SAT, and PSAT scores. Many students already take these tests, which are set to national standards and which release practice tests, unlike current state tests.

Yes, this will mean that more students will have to take the ACT and the SAT, but more students were already doing so in order to achieve a concordant score because they could graduate from high school because the concordant score was an equivalency score to the FCAT. It was set lower than what colleges expect from students applying for admission.

Why do we need a FEDERAL set of guidelines? Why a MINIMUM set of guidelines? That is to ensure that all students in all states have the same standards. We can't have Florida, Texas, California, and New York using the hardest tests and failing the most students while other states adopt standards and tests that all students pass, which then rewards those states with additional federal funding while the other states receive federal and state sponsored overhauls of local school boards. We need FEDERAL oversight to ensure parity among the states.

KEEP Common Core and / or adopt MINIMUM standards for graduation at a FEDERAL level. Allow local school boards to change the textbooks to a curriculum that makes sense. Publishers make money off these changes, and if they realize that we want a curriculum that makes sense, they will produce texts that make sense instead of using the fuzzy math that has been around longer than Common Core.

Finally, do away with this senseless testing. Use the PSAT as a pretest for tenth graders (it's free). Set a cut score (Florida already has one) for the ACT and SAT and have students take the ACT and / or SAT. Students on free and reduced lunch receive two vouchers to take the test for free. Allow them to use those vouchers. Students who do not pass can then sign up for school sponsored or privately sponsored preparation or remediation courses as needed, but make the students sign up for them as part of registration for classes for the following year.

If these changes are implemented, students will feel less stress; students will have an actual chance at graduating; students, parents, and employers will know that every student graduating from a public high school in this country had to meet the SAME MINIMUM FEDERAL standards and take the SAME ASSESSMENTS with similar cut scores; and teachers, students, parents, and school boards will no longer be on this ride of terror that began in the early 2000s.

I might even consider returning to the school system if these changes happened.

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