PORT JEFFERSON STATION, N.Y. – When can you get 1,500 people to focus on one thing? If it doesn’t involve free food, a celebrity or sports, it’s not easy. And when it involves bureaucratic and confusing public school policy, it’s even tougher.

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But apparently the Common Core national debate has caught the public’s attention.

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An estimated 1,500 people gathered at Comsewogue High School on Long Island Saturday to rally against standardized testing associated with Common Core.

Protesters noted the dramatic drop in student test scores last academic year, when the new Common Core standards were implemented. LongIsland.com reports passing rates in the Comsewogue district declined from 75.4 percent to 37.5 percent for grades 3 through 8 in math while the same group declined from 67.2 percent to 39.6 percent in English.

The president of the local teachers union, Beth Dimino, was quoted as saying, “There are people in positions of power who are hurting our children, and as the adults in the room, we have to make it stop.”

The reality is standardized tests are the only way to objectively assess student achievement and gain a strong sense of teacher effectiveness. Testing should remain and continue to be used as educational measuring sticks.

But given the “rocky” rollout of Common Core standards – in the words of the New York Times – how is it fair to hold teachers or student accountable in the midst of confusion and chaos?

Are accountability advocates, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, actually doing more harm to the effort by creating national standards that have created these problems?

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They’ve unnecessarily created an opportunity for unions and government school apologists to legitimately criticize objective assessments.

“Children will not understand how they went from doing very well to failing in three years,” wrote Comsewogue Superintendent Joe Rella in a letter to parents after the poor test results were announced, according to LongIsland.com. “The commissioner is telling them that they aren’t learning less. They won’t understand. I don’t understand!”

State Assemblyman Al Graf created an online petition to organize parents against Common Core testing. He notes that state officials signed on to Common Core in an effort to gain federal education dollars, and questions whether it’s worth the money.

It reads in part, “complying with the regulations to receive funding from the Federal Government’s Race to the Top Program costs far more to implement than we actually receive from the Federal Government. Competing for the Race to the Top funding is tantamount to spending ten thousand dollars to get a two thousand dollar grant which does not make sense and is fiscally irresponsible,” according to the news site.