15 Jan

Enhance your Tablet: Accessories you Need to Get the Most Out Of Your Device

Zagg book rugged
For iPad Air owners who are among you, the Rugged Book is the “most powerful and versatile wireless Bluetooth tablet keyboard” on the market. Are you ready to be the Bear Grylls of the tablet world? Is it a thing? Do not despair if you have another type of iPad: Zagg sells hard shell cases for the most part.
The fantastic magnetic hinge makes this tablet accessory able to act as a box, a keyboard, a movie theater and a book. It can be chargeable for up to two years (assuming one hour per day). With a backlit keyboard function, you probably will not need another case while your tablet is still active. Given the battery life of the Rugged Book, I was able to survive it well.

Tablet support
If you need to hold your tablet anywhere, it can be tedious for your weak little arms and lean against various household items as you try to stuff yourself – it’s impractical to see House of Cards. The Plinth Tablet Stand solves these annoying problems and also fits in your back pocket, so your tablet stays mobile. Designed and made in the UK, it’s done at the touch of a button and even appeared (pretty impressive) in Dragon’s Den last year.
It is versatile, adjustable and serves as a support for iPhone 7 Samsung S8, tablet (has an iPhone and iPad Pro 6+ above) or even your Nintendo switch, cell phone or tablet (with or without case). Did we mention that this is also a lifetime warranty?

Riva S
The Riva S is a high-quality Bluetooth speaker designed for music, movies, and large volumes of Netflix (now that Go Binge lets you see what you want) through your tablet.
With 13 hours of battery life, it’s perfect and a multi-party mode, the days with a small, small speaker, while you and a group of friends hear the terrible sound (which makes it shocking) have already left behind.
With water-resistance and the ability to sync two left and right channel speakers, you’ll enjoy it. You can even begin to believe that you are strange in all things.

Zendure A5 portable charger
The exhaustion of the battery is the bane of our lives. And one of the top five stress factors facing Millennials in 2017 (it’s a joke). Whether you are away from home and just need to make a call to go home, or if you are an expert in preparation, you want your tablet to work with enough energy.

The Zendure A5 will charge your device four or five times before it runs out of energy (we discovered that fact even more) and it works with a variety of USB devices. Unlike most portable chargers, they can charge you one of the most useful features we’ve seen so far. So you can charge your phone and the A5 at the same time. This smart charger can even go to sleep when not in use. It’s small, durable and we would not go anywhere without one.

 

Jive Soundproof Helmets
A beautiful pair of headphones that isolate the sound and do not break the shore, for all the time you want to watch programs and listen to tunes without being disturbed or disturbed by the outside world. It’s mostly loud in high fidelity voices and comes with all the sounds you expect from a brand like Brainwavz.
Stylish, with foam tips, they are probably the most comfortable headphones we’ve ever tried. The three-button remote control is as easy to use as the others, and the microphone means you’ll never have to remove it again.

BioliteCampstove 2
For eco-conscious campers and the greediest among you, this is one of the most innovative tablet accessories (seriously, who invented this, is that great?!) that we’ve seen so far.
Not only does this campfire burn a non-smoking conventional biofuel fires (sticks, wood, embarrassing pictures, cards/gifts from your ex) to boil water, it will also use this excess energy to generate electricity and charge your tablet
BioliteCampstove 2 is one of those futuristic accessories that can revolutionize the most traditional activities: camping outdoors. Who has the marshmallows now?

Brush and brush Sensu
We have to confess. Most of us have big fingers. Like great sausages for everyday tasks, such as the cleaning of tears and the use of our hands as utensils for eating, but for the most complex things, it is the use of tablets, we prefer the brush and brush Sensu.
Your tablet is more than just a big phone or a small laptop: it’s the screen you’ve always dreamed of. But what is a painting without a brush? (Note: it is a blank canvas). The Sensu can be a useful tool for writing and drawing, or it can be used as a universal pen. It does not hurt that it’s so lovely to see a calligraphic brush.

15 Mar

Things you should know about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC)

What is PARCC?

PARCC or the partnership for assessment of readiness for college and careers is a group of states partnered together to develop a set of common students’ assessments. Developing the PARCC is handled by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The assessments by PARCC measure the knowledge and skills that give students confidence and success in the main academic areas. Such skills include evidence-based writing, mathematical problem solving, and understanding complex texts.

Who should take PARCC assessments?

As such, students between grades 3 to 8, inclusive, are given the opportunity to take online PARCC assessments in mathematics and ELA, each spring. PARCC results are used together with other measures to create a broader picture of a child’s progress. The other measures include report card grades, teacher feedback, and classroom performance. So, with PARCC you can be sure that a child’s development isn’t just based on their scores in school but on a statewide standard that compares the performance of children from different schools.

How are PARCC tests designed?

PARCC assessments are intended to assess the member states’ Common Core State Standards. On the PARCC website, are ELA test specification documents that should help you better understand the design of ELA assessments. Also available to the public are mathematics test specification documents that provide test blueprints and claims structures that outline the goals and format of the assessment. They also give evidence statements that link the content of the assessment to Common Core State Standards.

How are PARCC assessments taken?

PARCC assessments are computerized and are completed online. For this reason, some of the questions are multiple choice. However, others may ask the students to plot a point on a graph, shade an area or slot in their answer to an equation. For language tests, students might be required to read short passages and write short essays.

Are PARCC tests harder than other standardized tests?

These assessments are designed to be more rigorous than the tests offered in each of the member states. Setting high standards is important because they align to the CCSS which put emphasis on reading, comprehension, and critical thinking.

What are the cons of PARCC assessments?

Well, many complaints have come from younger students, the cause of disagreement since the test format and questions are too confusing to them. Again, there are those who have an issue with the time it takes to sit and prepare for the tests. They tend to think that this time could have been put to better use. However, there is also the question of the resources used by schools to upgrade technology in readiness for the tests. Those who belong to this school of thought say the resources used are unnecessarily too much.

Some have also expressed fears that teachers will end up teaching for the tests and nothing else. Others say that there are too much emphasis formal texts in ELA as opposed to creative writing and literature. As another form of standardized test, PARCC may not truly reveal the student’s knowledge, skills, and understanding. As much as PARCC assessments include test items across different levels of cognitive ability, there is no provision for the assessment of students with special needs, leaving out a key element of any assessment system. The requirement that students use technology may disadvantage many students from poor and low-income areas who do not have as much experience using computers.

What are the benefits of PARCC assessments?

The proponents of PARCC assessments believe that with more rigorous tests, students will be better prepared for colleges and careers. They are based on the CCSS standards that require students to show problem-solving skills. As such, the tests are designed to ensure students know how to solve problems rather than simply memorizing the correct answers. A comparison can also be drawn between students’ progress in the states, which administer PARCC tests, thus creating a common standard of assessment between different states.

Some of the proponents of these tests have also observed that PARCC tests make teachers more accountable. Holding the teachers in charge of tests provide a means of gauging and improving performance in the entire class. Since the tests have been created in collaboration with over 800 colleges, they ensure that students who graduate from high school are ready for college. Parents and teachers may also use PARCC assessments to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students and any additional instruction required.

PARCC assessments are also so flexible that schools in their administration need not much time and resources. As others take the tests, teachers and students who are not taking them can be in class doing meaningful learning. The supporters of these tests also say that it is easy to tie performance in PARCC tests to the money spent by various states on education.

15 Feb

History of the SBAC and How it Rose to a Nationwide Movement

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was created in 2010 with the aim of producing a universal assessment system to help students be well prepared for college and careers. The creation of the tests aimed to produce a vigorous assessment of the new, challenging common core state standards (CCSS) and help educators and school districts align teaching to these new standards. The SBAC originally consisted of a consortium of 30 states that submitted a proposal for a $178m federal grant to develop a new, groundbreaking series of tests for students. In 2014 the federal grant came to an end and the SBAC was transferred to UCLA and became a public agency.

 

The SBAC is funded by the memberships of the 16 states, that currently offer the tests, and all tests have been available for students to take since April 2015. Testing costs around $28 per student for the full package of resources and although it can cost states a significant amount of money to introduce, the resources that are included can actually end up saving money and time for educators. Around 220 colleges nationwide accept the high school summative SBAC tests as evidence for college readiness for credit level courses.

 

The progressive tests were created using a dynamic process of field-testing and in Spring 2014, 4.2 million students took the first field tests which facilitated the evaluation of over 19,000 assessment items. This allowed for the first set of achievement standards to be set, which were a starting point for discussion about achievement standards across the states that took part and as a baseline measure for the future.

 

The SBAC is designed to be a valid and reliable approach to student assessment, providing actionable data to provide interventions to help students succeed. For states offering the tests, the SBAC provides three components developed by nearly 5000 teachers nationwide:

 

  • Formative and practice assessments with a digital library of resources for students and educators.
  • Interim assessments
  • Summative assessments towards college and career readiness in English, Language Arts and Math

 

The SBAC summative tests are available for students in grade 3-8th and high school and are all administered via an interactive online platform. The tests take between 2.5 – 4 hours for each component and are either marked digitally or by qualified professional scorers. The marks for each assessment are available in 2-3 weeks for parents, educators and students. Each student receives a result of 1,2,3 or 4 on each test with 1 representing a student who is minimally qualified and 4 a student who is thoroughly qualified.

 

The movement towards rigorous and valid assessment helps both states and the nation ensure that students are leaving high school with a diploma that prepares them for adult life. The SBAC provides a way to ensure that every student succeeds and every school district is accountable for that because of the tests.

 

15 Nov

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Tablets

Buying a tablet can be an amazing experience. With its help, you can access great portability, lots of amazing apps and immediate access to the features that you might need. There are many tablets which deliver perfect results for business and other models are perfect for day to day users. But you do have to wonder, how can you pick the right tablet? Believe it or not, the entire process is easy if you know where to look and what you should look for. Because of that, we created a list with all those things you need to know when you purchase a tablet.

Pick the right brand

There are multiple tablet brands you can choose from, each one coming with its own unique set of features and benefits. You can either opt for Apple, Samsung tablets, Microsoft, Amazon tablets and so on. Of course, each one comes with its own operating system and features so you do get quite a different experience. It’s a good idea to go through trial and error. Find a local shop that allows you to test at least one model as this way you will see whether that tablet will suit your needs or not.

iOS or Android

The operating system is crucial for any tablet. Based on it you will be able to get access to a different App Store, applications and features created specifically for your device. There are many differences between Android and iOS, but you can also find quite a bit of similarities. iOS is great if you are a person that wants to access intuitive menus, wonderful native apps and a good selection of movies, books or music. On the other hand, Android has a larger selection of apps, it helps you access better customization options. You can also opt for Windows tablets that use the Microsoft tile system. These are good for working with familiar tools such as Power-Point for example.

Screen size and resolution

The screen size is up to you. Some people like the idea of having a tablet with a very large screen, so you can opt for 10 inch models or even 12” models like the iPad Pro. On the other hand, you can also pick tablets like 7” or 8” models if you want. The latter ones will fit in your pockets, so they will provide you with a better portability. Even so, the value you get here is amazing and you should think about the screen size beforehand. You also should think about the overall resolution. A higher resolution will provide more pixels on the entire screen. Thus, the visual experience will be more detailed. Opt for the highest possible resolution if you want to get the very best results.

Memory and CPU

A quad core CPU is standard on the medium-range models. Some newer tablets are featuring octa-core processors, while the less expensive ones will bring you single core or dual core processors. Usually, quad core processors are ok from a performance standpoint and affordable.

When it comes to the necessary internal memory, keep in mind that some tablets don’t allow you to add a memory card. Because of that, you will need to opt for more internal memory. Nowadays, it’s recommended to stick to around 32GB as an entry level, if you install a lot of apps or if you play lots of games you should consider 64GB or 128GB models.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

There will be times when you want to connect to the web, so a good Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection will come in handy. While most tablets have great connectivity features, including all the above. For the best results, you should still check if they have these features before you purchase.

Budget

Based on your budget, you might be limited to a certain set of tablets. Usually, a good tablet should be around $300, some models are over $400 and they are considered as top of the line. Entry level tablets can be found at $100 and if you don’t want as much processing power as a premium tablet you can easily get good results with $200 models. Remember that you should stick to your budget when you buy a tablet. There will always be some more expensive models with better features, so try to keep that in mind as it will help you quite a bit. It will not be easy to do that, but in the end results can be very well worth it in the end.

Waterproof or not

There are a few models which are waterproof, but these will usually have less processing power. Most of the time these are created specifically for professional users and they aren’t dedicated to regular users. Still, you can find yourself getting such a model if you want water-resistant tablets. If you want a good table that you use daily and you live in areas where it rains a lot, waterproofing can be a very important thing for you so try to keep that in mind.

What do you want to use it for?

You can find Tablets for professionals, for home use or for gaming. For example, models like the Nvidia Shield are created for gamers, whereas Microsoft Surface or the iPad Pro are designed with the business users in mind. Regular tablets come from different makes and they can be suitable for most home users without that much of a problem.

If you want to use your tablet solely for gaming, you do need to opt for a more powerful one. on the other hand, if you just want to use it at home for web browsing and e-mail, you can stick to the lower end models.

Conclusion

Yes, it can be very challenging to find a good tablet that suits your needs. But if you take your time and study the market you will find it very easy to pick the right model. Keep in mind that you should stick to your budget. Don’t rush, see what you want to use the tablet for and results can be very interesting to begin with!

08 Nov

10 Signs You Should Invest in Tablets

In the past few years, more and more people started to be focused on the idea of purchasing a mobile device. Usually, when you must choose between multiple devices like this you either have to pick between a tablet, mobile phone or a laptop. Laptops are heavy and smartphones can have a tiny screen, but tablets are a great middle ground that deliver a larger screen and good processing power for an affordable price. But is it a good idea to invest in a tablet? Will it last more than a tablet and how can you get the best results from it? Let’s find that out right now.

  1. Tablets are great for reading

A major benefit for many users is that tablets are very good for reading. Unlike e-readers that have e-ink screens, tablets have a customizable screen, the ability to change brightness and opacity as well as many other similar features. This makes it a lot easier for you to read the content you want and in the end the entire reading experience is a lot more interesting.  Plus, tablets bring you the ability to read multiple types of files. From PDFs to long web articles, comic files and so on, all of these run natively on a tablet while an e-ink reader will struggle with them.

  1. Portability

One of the main reasons why you have to consider getting a tablet is the portability you will receive. There will be no need for docking stations, tablets are portable and you can easily take them with you whenever you want. They work great for businessmen but regular people can also use them during their travels. It’s really nice to have a tablet when you need to access the web, stay in touch with friends/colleagues or when you need to enter a videoconference while on the go.

  1. Internet Connectivity

Some tablets allow you to connect to your 4G network or they can easily connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot. One thing is certain, you never have a problem finding a good internet connection nowadays so you can always reach anyone regardless of where you are. Thanks to owning a tablet, you will be able to get in touch with your family as fast as possible and results can be second to none all the time!

  1. Tablets are stable

Yes, unlike computers, the tablet OS is a lot more stable. There will be a few crashes here and there but you just need to restart the unit and you are back on track. This is great if you want to access special applications or features on your device and the results you get from here can be quite impressive in the end. That alone, combined with a very good debug system and plenty of reset options, makes using a tablet very easy and safe.

  1. Affordable

A great benefit brought by any tablet is that it helps you get access to great mobile apps on the inexpensive side. A tablet is a lot cheaper when compared to high end mobile phones or even regular laptops, so you should consider investing in a tablet if you want to have the very best results. Keep that in mind and the experience will be worth it in the end. Plus, you can use the extra money to purchase accessories or invest in other electronics of your own choosing.

  1. Tablets are great for multimedia

You can use a tablet to listen to your favorite music, you can watch videos on it or you can share content on social media. Yes, tablets are perfect for social content creation and they can deliver amazing multimedia features. They are a delight to use and the experience you get is a very good one. Plus, you don’t have to carry an iPod or similar unit around, you get a complete round of features in the same device which is very important.

  1. Great for business and productivity

Tablets give you access to the Google Play and iOS App Store, mobile app stores that are filled with great productivity tools that will help boost your productivity and take it to new heights. All you should do is to download the ones which seem promising and based on trial and error you can pick the right one to suit your needs.

  1. Easy to customize

One of the main benefits of owning a tablet is that it offers you endless customization options right from the start. This makes the experience simple and a lot more immersive than ever before. All you should do is to pick the right tablet for you and customize it in any way you want.

  1. They help you manage your time a lot better and easier

Time management can be very troublesome and stressful for all of us. But if you’re not careful you can easily find yourself losing most of the day dealing with day to day issues and postponing the most important tasks. With that in mind, a tablet will help you better manage your daily tasks by delivering special tools and apps that help you do exactly that. If you want the very best results, you just should get a good tablet and results can be amazing.

  1. Tablets adapt to your needs

All tablets are versatile; they are units that you can use for specific tasks depending on your needs. It doesn’t matter if you are a coach that schedules his team or an artist that creates beautiful art pieces, you can easily use a tablet to do all of that and so much more. It’s a delightful, unique experience and one that will pay off very well in the long term.

As you can see, there are many signs and reasons why you should invest in a good tablet. If you want to boost the way you work, you want to better manage your tasks or access the web while you are on the go, getting a tablet can be a very good idea. Plus, tablets can easily adapt to your own needs which is exactly what you want to have in the end! So, consider purchasing a good tablet soon as you will be very impressed with its versatility, usability and quality!

01 Nov

Comparing laptops to computers; what is best for your student?

Computers came into existence a long time ago. From the size of a football field, to a room, to a table and now to a lap; computer systems have also progressed as the World has moved forward. Being permitted only to influential offices when they were initially introduced and only being operated by a professional, now they have been given access to every human on earth. As a student, it becomes a tad tough to decide whether laptops are better or computers are more appropriate. Thereby, we shall see the pros and cons of various aspects of both, as to decide which one will serve the purpose better.

  1. Cost price: Due to the fact that desktop computers are larger and have more than one component attached to them that can vary per package, the prices are also in a wide array. However, the lowest price you must pay with the maximum number of gadgets is also pretty minimal and you can still attain a perfectly good setup. On the other hand, laptops do not have that much hassle attached to them, but to have the best package like speed, memory space, durability and sleekness you must pay a lot more. Thereby, judging by pricing, laptops can be heftier on the pocket of a student or an educational institution if they want the best one available in market.
  1. Handiness: Desktop computers not only have a monitor but also a processor that is quite heavy. To transport it from one place to another you need quite some time and effort. Furthermore, all the wires attached to a switchboard, to the monitor and the keyboard also need to be detached and carried along making it a very troublesome process. Howbeit, laptops have everything they need in their system so you can merely pick it up and put it in another place. As a student, that is the biggest advantage you can get because you can carry it wherever you want.
  1. Processor power: Since desktop computers have a larger sized processor, the power it harnesses is also proportional to its size. This means that more activities that involve heavy power can be done on the computer like gaming. Laptops have smaller sized and lesser powered systems, on which you cannot do very dynamic activities. In case of students, it depends on the type of study they have and how much work they need off the system. If the student is a graphic designing course, he must prefer a computer because they can install all his software easily. On the other hand, if they are fifth graders, a laptop will do just fine.
  1. Assembling: Arranging, setting and starting up a desktop computer is a cumbersome process owing to the large number of components involved. Thereby, it also takes up more area. To the contrary, laptops only need to be inserted with a battery the first time, and every time after you just need to click the power button to get it in use. So, for educational institutes that install them or students, laptops can save a lot of precious time, as well as space in the room. 
  1. Keyboards: In case of desktop computers, you need to purchase an additional keyboard, but there are so many options to choose from. There are different sizes, various types, numerous colors and eye-catching themes to your liking. In the case of laptops, the good part is that the keyboard is already installed so you need not buy an additional one, however you cannot customize it to your liking. Again, their ease to a student depends on the type of educational program he/she is in. If they need a larger keyboard with more features, then a computer would do. However, if his scope of studies does not require any fancy keyboards, a laptop is all he/she needs.
  1. Size of screen: In the case of screen size, both the subjects at hand are equal. Monitors, whether of the laptop or the desktop computer, come in all size ranges. You can pick the one you want. Both of them can also be connected to any external monitor like a television screen with a single cable so you need to worry about the size.
  1. Improvement: Everything changes after a while, new advancements and gadgets come into existence and you think about updating. Since the desktop computer has all externally attached components, you can change any one of them at any time as per your requirements. Diversely, the laptops and their components are not removable, meaning that you cannot upgrade them except for the hard-disk, memory and such. You can only purchase a brand new laptop. In this case, desktop computers have a clear advantage because as soon as a component wears out becomes out-dated you can change it.
  1. Repair: Same goes the case for repair. Since the components can easily come off, you can repair them, replace them and upgrade them with ease. However, laptops usually need to be sent to an expert to get it back into shape because you cannot repair it on your own, neither can you replace any component. Here, also desktop computers have a significant advantage.
  1. Fashion statement: Well, we cannot rule out the trends of the modern world can we? And that is laptops. While desktop computers still exist, they are now being considered obsolete, and laptops are readily taking their place more or less because of their portability and smoother designing. So if you want to follow the bandwagon effect, or simply to fit into your surroundings, a laptop will be a more probable choice.

In conclusion, whether you need a desktop computer for your student or a laptop, depends widely on the subject of the study, the requirements of the syllabus, the classroom ethics and the ease of the student. After assessing all these factors in light of the pros and cons mentioned above, the student plus the teacher can decide which of them is more suited.

15 Jan

Is Wisconsin confused on Common Core?

As an early adopter back in 2010, Wisconsin has proven to be one of the more volatile states dealing with Common Core. First a proponent then an opponent and now dedicated to it, it’s no wonder that the general populous is confused as to the state’s stance on the standards.

 

Governor Flip Flopping

The biggest trouble has been with Governor Scott Walker’s indecision. Claiming many times to be against the Core, many remain confused to his proclamation that he “effectively repealed” them in 2015 even though all statewide tests have been aligned to them. In truth, the schools have held on to these standards even though they are not forced by law to do so. However, the story gets a bit more interesting from there.

While schools don’t have to choose the Core, the new state exam was to be Smarter Balanced, a general exam aligned to Core standards. Therefore choosing any other standard set would only serve to ruin test scores and paint teachers in a bad light. So the Core remained. Then, Walker helped eliminate Smarter Balanced in favor of a shorter, cheaper option known as the Badger Exam. Even though it’s cheaper, it still remains aligned with Common Core, causing frustration among the educators of Wisconsin. They are disappointed that they can’t use this test to truly assess student progress with other states because while the Badger Exam might lead to higher test scores in the state, the results won’t accurately portray student learning on a national level.

 

Better Scores

All in all, 2015’s Badger Exam scores have shown interesting results with an average 51.2% proficiency in English and 43.7% proficiency in math. Like other states, the teachers were quick to warn parents and politicians not to take these scores too seriously as they are only the first results for a brand new exam. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t where the problem ends.

Highly criticized for a myriad of reasons, the released data has been anything be predictable. Some schools did incredibly well while others had low scores even though the students that tested were strong performers in advanced classes. Luckily, last year was the only year the Badger Exam would be used. Now unfunded, the state will once again take on a new statewide exam, the Wisconsin Forward Exam, it’s third assessment in three years.

 

As Wisconsin moves forward, its rift can only be understood as the result of a confused leadership. In the majority of states, officials have taken a firm stance, be it for or against the Core and its related tests. Wisconsin, however, is floating in a confused miasma of indecision that has resulted in wasted educational funds, wasted time and a frustrated educational system. As the teachers do what they can to navigate the governor’s inability to choose a side, it’s the children that are confused, adapting quickly and constantly to statewide tests.

31 Dec

Illinois Changes its attitude about Common Core

A weird amalgamation of liberalism in its city of Chicago and conservatism out in every other area, Illinois has taken the more liberal route in regards to education. Following the reveal of the Common Core, the state voted to adopt the standards on June 24, 2010. In addition, it became and has remained an active member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC), the group tasked with developing the new standardized test for the Core. That being said, the state is slowly becoming more two-sided in light of the PARCC test scores that released in 2015.

 

Growing Pains

Like most states, Illinois saw an extreme drop in readiness for college as determined by these test scores. Across every district, scores were low, prompting educators to send home letters of explanation so as to shield the children from any parental punishment. That being said, it’s the conservative districts that took the scores in stride, logically drawing the conclusion that a new test was bound to be lower since both teachers and students had never taken anything like it before.

 

Growing Resentment

While the non-Chicago areas are continuing to work to improve, it’s the big city that’s harboring a growing break between the Core and everyone else. From educators to parents, the PARCC test has been vilified as ruining the already struggling school system. Educators see it as an evil that is turning away both prospective and current teachers. Parents encouraged students to protest the exam, leading to certain schools reporting a 54% no-show rate. Unlike other states, educators are fully supportive of the parents doing this, even in light of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel shaming them for siding with the parents.

While it might seem like a great stand against a perceived evil, the fight to force the students to take the test is embroiled in a much more complex issue of funding and poor performing schools. In reality, it was only the higher performing schools with the wealthier parents that supported such a boycott of the PARCC. Such skip rates did not happen in the poorer districts. In addition, the state needs to maintain a 95% participation rate in order to continue to receive funding for these lower-performing and often underfunded schools – schools that have no bearing on the costly private institutes that are causing such a fuss.

In the end, the PARCC results have done nothing to prove or dismantle any theories so much as entrench individuals further in their current beliefs. Parents that believed the Core to be an evil now have found justification. Educators that knew lower test scores were coming are further convinced that this change is for the better, they just need more time. Though the Core will no doubt remain a staple of the state’s education system, what happens to the PARCC remains to be seen.

29 Oct

Common Core in the US

Educational reforms have long been a sore point in the United States. As each state is responsible for its own academic standards, many become defensive when the federal government tries to implement any form of change. While solidarity has led to some incredible programs in certain states, it has also led to equally as poor educational pursuits in others. Because of this, the US has seen a decline in its academic standing when compared with other first world nations, prompting the creation of the Common Core.

The Common Core

It must be stated outright that the Common Core has never been a federally mandated program. Instead, it is a set of standards for grades K-12 developed by leading educators from across the country. Its purpose is to get school systems up to par with global competitors so that America’s graduates have a shot at being accepted into good colleges and landing even better jobs.

Another important distinction that needs to be pointed out is that it’s not a specific program. It is merely general objectives students should be able to achieve by the time they graduate from one grade to the next. For example, where fifth graders will need to understand non-fiction, 8th graders will need to be able to analyze it critically. In addition, teachers and school systems are the ones to decide how these objectives are taught, allowing the states total control over this perceived federal take over.

Nothing New

When the Core was finalized, Washington tied to it the chance to receive funding for education, prompting many states to agree to Core adoption blindly. Not four years later when campaign bids started up and the standards were supposed to have been implemented did states begin speaking out against it. While some states, like Montana, have had no trouble whatsoever implementing the shift, other states, like Mississippi, are doing what they can to repeal the Core in favor of a state-sanctioned set of rules.

Oddly enough, the Core is anything but new in regards to the American education system. All states have created their own set of standards and implemented those. Like the core, these standards clearly define exactly what students should be able to do by the time they reach the end of that grade. This is all the Core is. The only difference is that the Core would then put every state on the same page, giving students equal opportunities to succeed no matter where they live.

Why, then, is it so hated?

The answer is never simple. From uneducated parents rallying behind favorite politicians to politicians flip-flopping because of upcoming elections, the entire thing has shifted away from the good it would do for the children to the emotionally charged knee-jerk reactions of the parents. For the wide majority of the states, educators fully support Common Core, but their support seems to fall on deaf ears.

25 Oct

Puerto Rico has its own Common Core Opinion

Though Common Core has been a highly controversial topic within the states, most news agencies forget that it hasn’t just been affecting them. In fact, all US territories have been offered the chance to adopt these new educational standards, including Guam, the American Samoan Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Of these territories, it’s Puerto Rico that has resisted adoption entirely, joining the ranks of Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma.

A Failing System

The story of not adopting the standards is inextricably tied to Puerto Rico’s current failing economy. With no power to vote, the country has been nothing but a slave to American interests based on economic needs and wants. Having been abused for so long now, the country has amassed a stunning $72 million in debt worsened by the decreasing population as those that can move somewhere else, do. To put this into perspective, Puerto Rico is twice as poor as Mississippi, the poorest state, but has double the cost of living.

What does this have to do with education?

Everything.

Much like rural school systems in the states are often years behind their more affluent city counterparts, Puerto Rico is doing everything it can to stay financially afloat including slashing an already depressingly low school budget. In the face of such a budget, the last thing the country needed was to add a curriculum that would cost money the country doesn’t have to implement in accordance with US design.

Pulling Back from Education

A recent report from former IMF consultants found that if Puerto Rico where to lay off teachers, drastically cut education spending and a variety of other steps, they could begin to get the financial situation under control. However, it’s also widely recognized that a stronger economy requires a good education system in order to keep the work force strong. It’s become a catch-22 that both students and teachers are ready to protest.

Is there a solution? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer. After all, the problems are highly varied and not entirely clear themselves. The one thing they all agreed on, however, was that Common Core was not needed. To a country in their position, Common Core is a hope for a future where the educational system isn’t continually threatened by the economy.

In the end, Puerto Rico isn’t against Common Core so much as it is unable to hold debates about it. There are far more pressing matters looming on the horizon, making these standards seem trivial in light of trying to keep money in the school system. Provided financial hope can be cultivated, there may be adoption plans for the future. For now, however, the Core isn’t even important enough to spark the widespread debate seen in the states.