Common Core in California: Homeschooling and standardized testing | SierraSun.com

Common Core in California: Homeschooling and standardized testing

Jaynie Aydin
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Beginning March 2015, public schools in California will administer the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).

This new annual test, which replaces STAR, is aligned with the Common Core State Standards mandated to be taught at all public schools.

CAASPP was devised by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is a multi-state group charged with developing accurate assessments of public school students' college- and/or career-readiness.

It is computer adaptive and administered via a secure browser. Computer adaptive means the online test will adjust question difficulty level to each student.

Students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Last year, students participated in a pilot test, the results of which were not scored.

CAASPP was designed to be administered in seat-based programs. The assessment assumes students are in a traditional, five-day per week school program.

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Standardized testing faces challenge and controversy for non-classroom-based programs. Parents who choose to homeschool their children through an independent study program do not necessarily "teach to the test."

The implementation of Common Core takes on a different form when instruction occurs outside the traditional classroom setting.

Despite the non-classroom-based setting, homeschooled students have achieved exceptionally high scores in a variety of past assessments including STAR and other assessment programs.

Homeschooled students tend to be comfortable thinking "outside of the box." This strength in problem-solving skills assist homeschooled students in answering complex questions which is an integral feature of CAASPP.

Some independent study homeschool parents assert that they have always been addressing the elements of "Common Core" in their home curriculum and that the concept of a balanced education is nothing new in a homeschooling environment.

Jaynie Aydin, Ph.D., is director of Twin Ridges Home Study Charter School, with branches in Truckee, Nevada City and Wheatland.