The cost and chaos of repealing Common Core

Nov 13, 2017

New York State has had the longest and most comprehensive review and implementation of new academic standards, according to a new study from High Achievement New York.

The same study, "Much Ado: The Cost and Chaos of Repealing Common Core - Vol. 2," says of the 21 states that have finished reviewing their academic standards, most still closely resemble Common Core.

"This report compares Common Core review among the states that use the standards, highlights how revision processes are necessary and concludes that high standards around the U.S. have also been enhanced from thoughtful community input into revisions, but not the repeal, of Common Core standards," the report opens.

Many students in Western New York have refused to take Common Core tests. In 2015, 20 percent of New York students opted out of taking the exams.

However, HANY Deputy Executive Director Brian Fritsch said the backlash has died down over the past few years.

"It wasn't a huge change, but we had fewer people refusing the test this past spring," said Fritsch, "so I'd say the temperature has gone down quite a bit now and the fairly long, deliberate process that the state Education Department has gone through has really helped to calm the waters and to make sure a lot of people are listened to  in the process." 

Fritsch said the biggest misconception is believing standards, assessments and curriculums are all one in the same. They all have different purposes.

"I think even though we want standards that give a good foundation and lead students on a path to success, I think teachers know students better than anyone as well as the parents," he said, "and once they can work together, they can work together to reach those standards."

Fritsch said some of the trickiest parts of the old standards have been clarified in the new ones. He said New York has seen some of the proficiency rates on the assessments related to the standards rise over the past four years as well as the graduation rates.

Buffalo has a large number of English Language Learners who have struggled with standardized tests in the past. Fritsch said they asked for more flexibility in testing so ELLs would not feel like they were tested considerably more than other students.

"Obviously, there are some things that we test them on just to see how they're doing as English Language Learners compared to other English Language Learners," Fritsch said. "Yeah, I think the state has been really cognizant and aware of making sure we're not overtesting those students."

Fritsch said the standards should be viewed as guideposts when working with English Language Learners.