Focus on Education
4:14 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Common Core panelist from WNY says recommendations were ‘incomplete’

An East Aurora High School teacher says the recommendations released by Governor Cuomo's Common Core Implementation Panel are "incomplete." Several recommendations were released Monday night, but Todd Hathaway says the panel only met twice and never addressed some of the problems that teachers, parents and students have complained about for more than a year.

Fight against Common Core in Buffalo.
Fight against Common Core in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"These recommendations don't change the dynamic that's causing such difficulty in our three to eight classrooms with flawed student testing," said Hathaway in a WBFO interview. "To use flawed student scores for teacher evaluations creates flawed teacher evaluations."

Hathaway accuses the Governor of quickly pushing to complete the recommendations for political purposes.

"We need to get it right wholesale and not just plot on for political reasons," noted Hathaway.

But while appearing as a guest on Tuesday's edition of the Capitol Pressroom with host Susan Arbetter, Governor Andrew Cuomo Cuomo responded too Hathaway's statement.

"I don't see any way there could be consensus," said Cuomo. Teachers have not wanted -- have opposed  teacher evaluations in various forms for many, many years."

Among the recommendations issued in the panel's 17-page report, calls to to ensure results from English and math Common Core testing for third through eight grade is not used against students. The recommendations also call to end the New York State Education Department's relationship with inBloom.  

But Hathaway referred to some of the recommendations as "nebulous." He said it fails to address Common Core issues teachers and students are directly struggling with in the classrooms.

However, Buffalo ReformED applauds this panel's recommendations for improving rollout of the Common Core standards.

"We applaud that they are a reasonable and balanced approached to improving the Common Core rollout. They recognize the rollout can be improved," said Jason Zwara,

Zwara disagrees that the panel did the work in haste. He tells WBFO News they applaud the Governor for recognizing that it was "an important issue it had to be done quickly."

The following is a  summary of the Panel’s recommendations issued by the Governor's office Monday night.:

Protect Students from Inappropriate High-Stakes Testing:

  • · Ban standardized “bubble tests” for young children: To protect young children from anxiety and developmentally inappropriate testing, the Panel recommends prohibiting the use of standardized “bubble tests” for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
    · Protect students from high stakes based on unfair test results: Before Common Core State testing begins in April, the Panel recommends: Ensuring that the results of English and math Common Core testing for grades 3-8 are not used against students and will not appear on their permanent records; phasing in higher pass scores for the Regents exams and ensuring teachers have course materials before high school students are tested on the new standards; and ending certain testing for students with disabilities and English Language Learners while still ensuring accountability for the performance of these students.
    · Use instructional time for teaching and learning – not over-testing: To help determine which assessments are truly necessary and beneficial, and reduce the testing burden wherever possible, the Panel recommends capping the amount of time that can be used for standardized tests and for test prep; improving transparency about what standardized tests students are required to take, and why; and implementing measures for school districts to more easily eliminate unnecessary standardized testing.

Provide Better Support for Parents and Teachers

  • · Treat parents as essential partners in Common Core implementation: To help parents understand and participate in the Common Core implementation process, the Panel recommends creating state-of-the-art online resources and toolkits that are linguistically and culturally appropriate to show parents what the Common Core is, what to expect, and how to help their children. In addition to a large-scale online effort, the Panel recommends including local community events and the dissemination of accessible and practical material through schools, non-profit organizations, libraries and other partners.
    · Ensure that teachers receive the training and support they need and deserve: To better engage teachers in the Common Core process, the Panel recommends providing high-quality local professional development opportunities for teachers. Schools that are successfully implementing the Common Core in each region should be identified and recruited to serve as models where other local teachers and principals can be invited to see instructional changes in action.
    · Give educators access to quality Common Core curriculum resources as quickly as possible: The Panel recommends the State Education Department quickly complete the unfinished Common Core curriculum modules and continuously improve all of the modules through the involvement of teachers and other educators and experts. In addition, the Panel recommends significantly increasing the number of assessment questions released following the Common Core tests so that teachers, parents and the public can see how students are tested. Teachers should also be given timely and useful information about student assessment results.

Improve public trust in Common Core implementation

  • · Ensure ongoing parental and citizen participation and input into Common Core implementation: To build trust and confidence, and provide networks of New Yorkers who can assist educators and government leaders in the implementation of the Common Core, the Panel recommends the appointment of an independent public task force that includes parents, educators, legislators, and business, civic and community leaders to provide ongoing review of Common Core implementation across the state and make public recommendations as needed to replicate successes and address the need for further implementation modifications.

Protect student privacy

  • · Establish strict data protection and security requirements, while ensuring that appropriate educational and operational data-sharing can occur: The Panel recommends enacting laws and policies that establish and/or reinforce strict data protection requirements, including procedures for parent notification in case of any data breach, including by a third-party, and strong penalties for violations; establishment of a “Parents Bill of Rights for Data Privacy” that includes complete transparency about what data is collected by the State and by school districts, who it is shared with and why; and naming of a Chief Privacy Officer for the State Education Department whose responsibilities include establishing standards for educational agency data security and privacy policies. The Panel does not support a “parent opt-out” of the use of data, which could place essential academic and operational functions in jeopardy. The Panel understands and respects parents’ fears about the privacy of their children’s data, and recognizes concerns about collecting unnecessary or intrusive data.
    · Halt the State’s relationship with inBloom: The debate about this one provider has become a distraction to the successful implementation of the Common Core. The Panel recommends that the State halt its relationship with inBloom and consider alternative paths to accomplish the goals of increased data transparency and analytics.

The members of the Common Core Implementation Panel include:

  • · Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs & President, IBM International Foundation (Chair)
    · Senator John Flanagan, Senate Education Committee Chair (Senate appointee)
    · Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Assembly Education Committee Chair (Assembly appointee)
    · Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education
    · Todd Hathaway, Teacher, East Aurora High School (Erie County)
    · Alice Jackson-Jolley, Parent (Westchester County)
    · Anne Kress, President, Monroe Community College
    · Nick Lawrence, Teacher, East Bronx Academy for the Future (NYC)
    · Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President of Programs, National Council of La Raza
    · Charles Russo, Superintendent, East Moriches UFSD (Long Island)
    · Dan Weisberg, EVP & General Counsel, The New Teacher Project