Public session focuses on Common Core

Nov 19, 2015

A gubernatorial task force was told Wednesday that Common Core can work. There was less certainty regarding the level of testing connected with the standards.

Governor Cuomo's Common Core Task Force held a public meeting at Daemen College on Wednesday.
Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Common Core Task Force was in Daemen College, finishing up its round of hearings and preparing to deliver its report to the governor early next year.

The governor asked the task force to study the broader field of the Common Core, teacher training and tests, even as the State Education Department is backing off on testing. That likely reflects 20 percent of kids declining to take the tests last spring and the possibility of even more doing the same this school year.

Stephen Sigmund, executive director of High Achievement New York, says workers going into the job market need high standards.

"We're all for improvements to the test and even to the implementation of standards, because it's big and it's new and it's difficult and there have been significant improvements made by the state including capping state testing time at 1% of academic time and prep time at 2% and agreeing to shorten the tests even further and changing the testing company and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, opponents react to all of that with 'no' because their real goal is to get rid of the standards," said Sigmund.

Erika Gundersen is assistant principal of PS 172 in Brooklyn, a school filled with poor kids, limited-English speakers and special education kids and high test scores.
"In 2011, we were awarded the national Blue Ribbon Award for Academic Excellence. We've pretty consistently ranked as one of the top ten schools in the state," Gunderson said. 

"Last year's test scores showed 98 percent of our students scoring at or above standard on the Math exam and 76 percent scoring at or above on the ELA and 100 percent of fourth graders scoring at or above in science."

Gundersen says this requires a lot of work, from careful selection of textbooks to intensive work on reading and vocabulary.

A Stanford educator says California is buying into the Common Core but not as much into testing and the state is putting $2 billion more into the effort, especially for teacher training on the new standards.