February 15, 2014
Common Core delay applauded
Educators, advocates say state gives districts much needed breathing room
A softening in the state Education Department’s formerly firm stance on the implementation of the oft-condemned Common Core Standards is eliciting nods of approval from local residents.
All but one of 19 recommendations from the State Board of Regents P-12 Education and Higher Education Committee was voted through Tuesday by the Board of Regents, meaning that full implementation of the standards will now be delayed until 2022.
“I think this is a step in the right direction,” said Karen Dudgeon, a founding member of Cortland County CARES (Caring Advocates for a Responsible Education System), a parent group that has advocated for revisions to the Common Core since September. “It looks like it gives districts the time to gather their feet underneath them.”
According to the Board of Regents’ plan, graduation requirements would not be tied to passing Common Core-aligned Regents’ exams until 2022, 12 years after the standards were first implemented.
“Anything that’s going to produce a little bit of a pause so that teachers have an opportunity to really learn the material is a win for us,” said Kimberly McRae Friedman, another founding member of CARES. “It’s a positive that they’re taking the time to make some of these adjustments.”
Additionally, test results on common core-aligned state assessments in grades three through eight will have no weight in determining whether a student is placed in academic intervention services, or AIS.
Cincinnatus Superintendent of Schools Steve Hubbard said that the change in stance in regards to placing students in AIS classes comes in response to the most recent round of test scores which placed an unusually high number of students in remedial classes.
“They had some children who in their whole careers had never achieved a level which required them to be in remediation,” said Hubbard, also noting an insufficient number of AIS teachers to handle the increased number of students.”The capacity wasn’t there.”
Hubbard said the decision to place a student in AIS courses is based on more than test results and that the state’s change in stance would not greatly affect things at his district.
“Teacher will make recommendation on which students they think will benefit from AIS services,” Hubbard said. “I’ll take a teacher recommendation over anything.”
McGraw Superintendent of Schools Mary Curcio said that she was glad she had not proceeded too quickly with implementation.
“It wasn’t going to do teachers or students any good to be causing all this anxiety if we moved too fast,” Curcio said of her decision. “Prepping lessons and doing that kind of thing takes time and that’s been the big issue. You need time to be sure that it’s done with integrity and quality.”
The Board of Regents’ P-12 Education and Higher Education Committee recommended a reprieve for teachers rated as ineffective according to Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) scores from 2012 to 2014. Under their recommendation, the estimated 1 percent of teachers rated as ineffective during that time cannot be fired due to their scores.
“Absolutely not,” said Hubbard when asked his views on the fairness of testing teachers based on unfamiliar content. “You can’t ask teachers to implement an entire common core program and not give them the amount of time they need to prepare properly.”
The state’s revisions also attempt to assuage concerns that a new state mandate requiring districts to upload student information to an online data storage provider will result in data leaks and data mining, by delaying the requirement for one year.
“That buys us a little bit of time,” McRae Friedman said. “That’s still something we feel very strongly should not be disclosed. That data should not be attached to student names. It should just be aggregate data.”
Regardless of the changes, state Education Commissioner John King said he remains dedicated to the Common Core as a whole, and while he confessed that the implementation of the new standards had been “uneven,” he reiterated his view that heightened standards are the only way to equip students with an adequate level of career and college readiness.
“We have to stay focused on giving all of our students the preparation they need to succeed after high school,” King said in a news release. “These changes will help strengthen the important work happening in schools throughout the state.”
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