ALBANY, N.Y. – For months, NEWS10 ABC has been committed to sorting out the controversy surrounding Common Core, the new set of national standards rolled out by the State Education Department that is changing the way children learn and the way teachers teach.
Overall, parents were surprised by the caliber of the questions on the fifth grade sample tests, calling them intricate and analytical, one parent even calling the material developmentally inappropriate.
They also made the point that there are good aspects of the common core, which they say are being overshadowed by the tests.
"I can't believe this is fifth grade," says Eric Vreeken. "This question here I was struggling with and if a fifth grader can answer it, then I would probably hire them," he jokes.
"This was far more in depth and really intense than what you average student should really and truly be expected to do," adds Karen LeQue.
"They both were comparably difficult, especially for an elementary students," says Susan Gold.
Raw reaction from parents who sat with fifth grade level sample questions for one hour and after that one hour, had a lot to say, especially after we graded the tests. No one had a perfect score, for either test.
"I originally had C and then I erased it and put B, because this is where the math adds up," says Renee Mertens. "But I still got it wrong."
"The ELA in particular had you read a long, lengthy paragraph, write an essay and then you turn the page and there's another long, lengthy story and another essay," adds Gold.
"I'm very surprised that I got as many wrong as I did, especially for fifth grade," says Vreeken.
Eric Vreeken says he is no stranger to the common core, recently inventing a smartphone app for parents and their children called "Study Lock", which locks a the phone or tablet until they answer common core state standard questions in math science and history.
Vreekan says he can appreciate a higher standard of education across the country, but says the changes, including the assessments, should have been implemented at a slower pace.
"I think some of the issues with the common core, is that is was just thrown at the education system," he says. "You can't change any entire system or way of thinking in a year or even in two years."
"Across the board, all the states have the same standards, but I think we should be taking some time in putting this all together instead of snapping our fingers right into testing," adds Geri Lehane.
The testing material came straight from Engage NY, an online resource from the state for teachers and parents to help them navigate through the common core.
A common core specialist for a local school district says while they have control over how the common core standards are implemented into the actual classrooms, they do not have control over the assessments and can only do their best to try and prepare students for them every year.
You can take a sample version of the test HERE.
Friday on NEWS10 ABC, hear from a parent of a child with special needs, and how the common core is affecting her family.