Some educators wary of Cuomo’s Common Core ‘reset’ | News

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday created the Common Core Task Force, which will review and possibly revamp standards and testing for the state’s public education curriculum.

But some local educators aren’t sure how much this will accomplish.

The move comes after three years of stagnant test scores and rising numbers of opt-outs amid protests over fairness to children – and teacher assessments.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, applauded Cuomo for “hit the reset button.”

“I approve” of the governor’s choice, said Eric Talbot, president of the Cuba-Rushford Teachers’ Association. “But also the approach that the governor is using is very flawed right now. He put together this coalition but, in my opinion, he did not include two of the groups that need to have a voice at the table.

Parents and students — including about 20% of the state’s roughly 1.1 million students eligible for denied third- through eighth-grade tests this spring — aren’t there, Talbot said.

“There were over 200,000 parents who didn’t want their children to take the tests because of the common core and teacher assessments,” Talbot said Tuesday. “Not having a parent or representative of this group is a mistake.” He added: “If you’re setting the standards and you don’t have the voice of parents at the table, especially the opt-out group, that’s not a wise move.”

The group includes Cuomo’s recent New York Education Reform Commission, several teachers and state education officials.

According to a statement from Cuomo’s office, the task force should also:

n review curriculum directions and resources;

n develop a process to ensure that testing matches curricula and standards;

n review the current moratorium on the recording of Common Core test results in student records and recommend whether it should be extended;

n examine how state and local districts can reduce the amount and duration of testing, and try to include parents in the review of local tests; and

n ensure the competence and professionalism of the private company carrying out and supplying the tests.

“I’m not sure I have a real understanding of what the governor is trying to do with the commission,” Olean City School District Superintendent Dr. Colleen Taggerty said. “He told the Department of Education to review the common core and come up with recommendations within a certain time frame. In that commission, he told this other group to review the common core and come up with decisions by December.

“I don’t know how they will parallel each other or interconnect. I hope the members of the commission will have the conversation with the State Department of Education to see that all the data will be compiled between the two entities and that all is well for New York State.

The third round of annual testing took place in April.

In English Language Arts (ELA), the percentage of students who met the New York proficiency standard – scores of 3 or 4 out of 4 – remained roughly stable this year at 31.3% compared to 30.6 in 2014 and 31.1 in 2013. Statewide math proficiency increased seven points in two years to 38.1 in 2015 from 36.2 in 2014 and 31.1 in 2013.

Teachers have complained that poor student performance could negatively affect annual appraisals and job security.

“I just hope they do a thorough investigation and do what’s best for the students, for the parents, for the teachers, for everyone,” Talbot said.

New York State has installed the Common Core Curriculum and Testing as a method to boost student success and college and career readiness. While some states have dropped out, it’s still the primary ethos in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and several outlying U.S. territories.

“My dad used to say, ‘There are a lot of good ideas. The key is to make them work,” Cuomo said Monday. “The Common Core implementation just didn’t work. Many teachers and superintendents across the state will rightly point out program errors. They will point out that they did not receive enough support to fully understand and implement this dramatic transition. It is time to review the common core curriculum and also the way we test our students.

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