Common Core: Testing Questions

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This month, students across Alabama are taking end of year tests. While the children are busy answering questions, some parents are asking them. The introduction of new tests, related to Alabama's implementation of Common Core standards, has raised concerns among some opponents of the initiative.

In April, the State Superintendent of Education released a memo to school districts, providing guidance on how to handle students who ask to opt-out of the tests. Governor Robert Bentley followed with a promise that an absence from the ACT Aspire test would be counted like any other absence.

However, ACT Aspire, currently being given to students in grades 3-8, is the only test from which students may opt-out. Officials say the rest of the state assessments are mandatory. That includes ACT Explore, given to 8th graders; ACT Plan, given to 10th graders; the ACT college entrance exam, offered free this year to 11th graders; and ACT WorkKeys. WorkKeys is being given to some 12th graders this year, including those in Huntsville. It will be administered to all Alabama high school seniors in 2015. ACT QualityCore tests, given to students taking certain subjects, are also mandatory.

Huntsville City Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Barbara Cooper says that's because these test scores count toward the student's final class grade. Dr. Cooper adds, ""those are not assessments that can be opted out because...they inform instruction and provide a guide to make sure we're providing the very best instruction we can for students." Students wishing to opt-out of ACT Aspire should present their request in writing to the school. More information on the ACT assessments may be found at the Alabama State Department of Education website.

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