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Editorial: Common standards should use same test

Having Common Core State Standards for education applied to the entire country makes sense. It’s an approach that provides student expectations and a way to measure that achievement, while giving the states a clearer way to see how they are matching up against others.

As stated in the Common Core mission, “The standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad.

Part of the standards is the development of a set of exams — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — that will serve to measure how students are doing in English language arts and math. To date, 45 states, including Massachusetts, have signed on to the effort.

As the Common Core comes more to the forefront, we don’t think that Massachusetts will have much trouble making the adjustment — after all, the commonwealth has been a leader in education for a long time. President Barack Obama singled out Massachusetts four years ago in talking about his vision for the country.

That educational leadership, no doubt, is why 15 percent of Massachusetts students in grades 3 through 11 students — include some in Franklin County — are expected to take the core standards’ exams. It’s an opportunity to be ahead of the curve in this transition.

Here’s where it could get messy, however.

States won’t have to take the Partnership for Assessment exams, but can choose to use their own test. Massachusetts could stay with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests — the MCAS.

How would that offer a level measurement in assessing how states stack up against each other?

It wouldn’t.

Instead, we would be once again left with educational apples and oranges.

Apparently, some state officials are attempting to determine which test is more rigorous. But let’s not equate difficulty of the exam with measuring whether students obtain the standard.

The state’s already added weight to the MCAS by making passing in 10th-grade a requirement for graduation. Success for the Core Standards will be something that happens once the student is entered either college or the job market. That’s where the real score will come from.

The states that have agreed to join the Core Standards should also agree to use the same test. Nothing else makes sense.

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