Focus on Education
2:13 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Regents committee responds to Common Core concerns

The New York State Board of Regents is expected to act on two committee reports Tuesday, calling for a delay the impact of Common Core-related state assessments on educators and students and reducing the level of local school district testing associated with the new teacher evaluation law and higher standards for teaching and learning.

Buffalo protestors against Common Core, Dec. 2013.
Buffalo protestors against Common Core, Dec. 2013.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Both the P-12 Education and Higher Education Committees compiled their reports Monday from a Regents' work group and adopted several measures presented in a report from a Regents’ work group to adjust the implementation of the new Common Core Standards.

“We have listened to the concerns of parents and teachers,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. 

“We’ve heard the concerns expressed at the hearings and forums, and we regret that the urgency of our work, and the unevenness of implementation, have caused frustration and anxiety for some of our educators, students, and their families.  This report is designed to make significant and timely changes to improve our shared goal of implementing the Common Core.  We have heard strong support for higher standards, but we have also heard a desire for more time. The Regents work group put together a series of strong adjustments that will help improve implementation without sacrificing the high standards we’ve set for our students.  These changes will help give principals, teachers, parents and students the time to adjust to the new standards without stopping our progress toward the goal we all share: college and career readiness for every student.”

“Any major shift – especially one involving 700 school districts, more than 4500 schools, and millions of students—is going to require adjustments and course corrections along the way,” Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said.  “The implementation of the higher standards has been uneven, and these changes will help strengthen the important work happening in schools throughout the state.  As challenging as implementation has been, we have to remember one important fact: the old standards were not adequate.  Every year, despite our state’s many excellent districts and schools, 140,000 students leave high school without the skills they need for college and career success.  We have to stay focused on giving all of our students the preparation they need to succeed after high school."

But Governor Andrew Cuomo is referring to these recommendations as "another in a series of missteps by the Board of Regents".  

The Governor issued a written statement saying the recommendations suggests "the time has come to seriously reexamine its capacity and performance." 

"These recommendations are simply too little, too late for our parents and students.  Common Core is the right goal and direction as it is vital that we have a real set of standards for our students and a meaningful teacher evaluation system. However, Common Core’s implementation in New York has been flawed and mismanaged from the start," said Governor Cuomo.

"As far as today's recommendations are concerned, there is a difference between remedying the system for students and parents and using this situation as yet another excuse to stop the teacher evaluation process," said Cuomo.

Cuomo noted that he has created a commissioner to examine the issue of Common Core. 

"The commission has started its work and we should await their recommendations so that we can find a legislative solution this session to solve these problems," said Cuomo.

The measures approved by the two committees Monday will reduce local testing by:

  • Increasing flexibility for districts to reduce local testing used to inform teacher evaluation
  • Creating an expedited review process for districts that propose to amend their teacher evaluation plans to reduce local testing
  • Eliminating local traditional standardized tests for K-2 used to inform teacher evaluations (The State does not administer traditional standardized tests in K-2.)
  • Capping at 1% the instructional time that can be used for local assessments used to inform teacher evaluations (The federally required State assessments in grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics account for less than 1% of instructional time.)

In addition, the Board and SED will support reducing standardized testing by local school districts through “Teaching is the Core” grants that require districts to review their local assessments and eliminate any unnecessary or duplicative assessments.  King noted that New York’s participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will be limited to field testing only during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

Although only 1 percent of teachers were rated ineffective in the first year of statewide teacher evaluations, the measure approved by the committees today will provide added protection for educators by approving an emergency regulation to protect teachers and principals from unfair termination based on 2012-13 and 2013-14 assessment results in districts that did not timely implement the Common Core by providing adequate professional development, guidance on curriculum, or other necessary supports.

King also announced the State has delayed the launch of the data dashboards related to inBloom to allow SED to work with legislators to address concerns about data security and third party providers used by the State and districts. 

The full report of the Work Group is available at the NYSED.