Many textbooks and other materials are lightly edited and rebranded by their creators as Common Core aligned, but being there is no central ministry of education, as in Singapore, which reviews materials and issues an official government seal of approval, anyone can make such claims with impunity. Some education departments are making their own determinations, such as NYC, which chose “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's ‘Go Math’ program for elementary students, and Pearson's ‘Connected Math Program 3’ for the middle grades”, or Louisiana, which last year rejected “every math and reading textbook submitted by publishers”.

The precise wording of the 93-page Common Core State Standards for Mathematics notwithstanding, a lack of consistency in interim assessments, independently developed and posed to students in states such as Kentucky, New York, Illinois and North Carolina, raises the issue of whether these test questions accurately reflect the Standards and manifest Common Core’s intent, but no matter: states, too, are barreling ahead with no independent oversight.

Carol Burris, a principal at a high school on New York’s Long Island, whose essays are often published in the Washington Post blog The Answer Sheet, recently critiqued a math test for first graders and critiqued several sample math questions. Lest we ourselves become completely overwhelmed by myriad Common Core offerings that run the gamut, we declined to pass specific comment on those independently written questions, and instead continue to focus on states’ sample and/or actual assessments and, to date, sample-only questions designed by the two “official” consortia, SBAC and PARCC.

This preamble brings us to PARCC’s latest batch of sample items, twelve in total, released in early November, for Grades 3-6 (nothing new for Grades 7 or 8) and high school. Fasten your seat belt…