The new Common Core Standards tests in public education are a “game changer” says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Yet the number of students nationwide opting out of Common Core tests is increasing significantly. The New York Times reported that in New York state, “At least 165,000 children, or 1 of every 6 eligible students, sat out at least 1 of the 2 standardized tests this year, more than double and possibly triple the number who did so in 2014.” Other states have noted the refusal of many students to participate in Common Core testing, including Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. This week, Ohio dumped its previously selected tester of the success of Common Core Standards (CCS).

Taxpayers are involuntarily contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to create and administer new state tests to determine the extent to which students fulfill CCS. In fact, Common Core tests are not revolutionary, and current tests are not that much improved from tests already available.To date, a large opt-out movement in California has been absent because this state did not test last year, and the Common Core tests administered during 2015 year don’t count, regarded as practice tests. The California Education Code (§60615), however, permits—legally guarantees—that parents may opt out their children from participating in state testing.

The stated purpose of CCS is college readiness, to ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in first-year college courses. This concept, that every student should attend college (and graduate), is problematic and self-defeating. A college degree is not needed to work successfully in thousands of vocational occupations. To support this goal requires adopting a more rigorous school curricula, which also increases the difficulty of school tests. The inevitable result of this action: More students will record lower scores on school tests, and students’ scores on measures of college readiness will decrease.

Rasmussen (2015) has offered compelling evidence why Common Core tests in mathematics are fatally flawed and should not be used. The English language arts (ELA) tests are equally flawed. No, they are worse: redundant, tedious, written poorly, and overloaded with details. The amount of clutter is overwhelming.

I recently reviewed ELA performance tests for several grades that will be used in California schools to test CCS. My comments below refer to stories and questions in practice tests for third graders. Test text is italicized.

Many people say they want to be an astronaut, but do they know what it’s really like? When astronauts are in space, they feel weightless. (If not in space, where are astronauts?) This sounds like fun, but it is not that simple. (This? Life in space, or feeling weightless? What is the “it”?) Astronauts sometimes feel sick in space. (Where else?) To help keep their muscles strong, astronauts have to do exercises when they are in space. (Again, where else are astronauts? Why use 10 words when 2 words will do? Astronauts exercise.) When they are in a spaceship that is moving around [the] Earth, they can feel as though they do not weigh anything. (Why use 22 words when 8 words will do? When moving around the Earth, they feel weightless.) They are able to float. (They can float.) The same clutter and redundancy appear in the questions that students answer about the story. One answer: Astronauts have a special view of Earth from space. (Insert a period after Earth.)

Limited by not using paper and pencil to complete Common Core tests, the scores of many younger children in California will not fully represent their real ELA achievement. Worse, however, is the wide scope of the content in Common Core tests. Traditionally, reading and writing tests have been limited, yes, to reading and writing. Students now must complete a myriad of tasks, the majority of which are lengthy, tedious, and unnecessary, an academic exercise analogous to submitting to a two-hour physical examination when needing only an aspirin from the doctor.

Following the reading of passages and stories and answering  test questions, the third grader must write, edit, and revise an essay, citing sources, using details and transitions, and “following rules of writing (spelling, punctuation, and grammar usage).” More difficult is the requirement to type and correct essays using a mandatory keyboard instead of pencil and paper. Indeed, the use of CCS and their testing is a wonderful process to ensure children learn to detest reading and writing.

Purportedly an important consideration in creating CCS was international benchmarking, developing a means for comparing students’ test scores among countries. Comparing scores among countries has always been difficult because the language of tests differs, and the meaning of text in one language does not always translate with the same meaning into a different language. State comparisons will be difficult because there are two organizations developing tests to assess CCS, each company recruiting and preparing test scorers independently. Students in 21 states will complete tests developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment CC states bl grConsortium (SBAC), and students in 12 states will complete tests created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). An additional testing problem is the consistency and quality of scoring Common Core tests: PARCC recruits test scorers from ads on Craig’s List!

Common Core Standards, a potentially good idea, has been implemented badly and flawed beyond fixing. Fortunately, for students, parents, and teachers, CCS will be gone faster than Ryan Seacrest’s presidential campaign. To update No Child Left Behind, which expired in September 2007, Sen. Lamar Alexander recently introduced the latest potential federal fix for public education: Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177). Senate hearings on this bill are scheduled to begin this month.

Steven Cohen and David Gamberg, two school superintendents in New York, recently shared their vision of education that transcends effects of Common Core: preparing students for the world of work and “hold[ing] incompetent adults—untrustworthy teachers and administrators—accountable for the abject failure of some children who graduate from our public schools.” These superintendents propose a multidisciplinary and service-based vision of education, although they admit, “[It is] beyond the scope of this [Common Core Standards] version of school improvement.” Nevertheless, it is a vision that thinking parents would enthusiastically opt in to support: “Broad learning in the arts as well as in the sciences, in literature as well as in history, economics, psychology, plus athletics, independent study and community service” (Cohen & Gamberg).