Recommended changes for more than half of Common Core Math & ELA standards

Sep 21, 2016

Proposed changes are in the works for New York State's ELA and Math  Common Core Learning Standards. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the State Education Department issued the proposed Common Core changes at every grade level,-from pre-school through 12th grade Wednesday.  

Commissioner MaryEllen Elia visited West Seneca last school year and discussed Common Core.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The New York State Education Department issued the proposed Common Core changes at every grade level from pre-school through 12th grade. Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says the revisions would change more than half in both math and ELA standards.

“With the English Language Arts standards more than 60-percent of those standards have changes and with the Mathematics, more than 55-percent, so it isn’t just tinkering around the edges and doing small little things,” explained Elia. 

When Common Core was adopted back in 2010 it set off a high rate of criticism on its implementation and difficulty for many students. Elia had been conducting listening tours and collecting feedback. The proposed changes were drafted by a committee made up of educators and parents.

West Seneca classroom.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

“That individuals across the state were focused on making sure that our rigors stayed with the standards, but that we reviewed those standards and I think it is critical thing that we have teachers, administrators, partners, parents and our partners in higher ed be part of that review,” Elia stated.  

Among the proposed recommendations clarifying student writing expectations, creating a new early learning task force and give students more time to develop math skills. There's also a call to 'Re-organize Writing Standards’ so they are easier for educators to use for curriculum and instruction.'

“It’s really important for teachers to know what the goal is. It’s like having a map, you know where you want to go, and you know you have to get there. Teachers have multiply ways that you can get to that standard and they should use those multiply strategies as they’re presenting those standards in their classrooms,” Elia remarked.   

It also calls for a stronger emphasis on the 'whole child'. You can weigh-in the education department is accepting public comment through November 4th. You can visit the NYSED website to review the proposed changes and submit your comment.  

Here are the NYSED web links for the ELA changes & Math changes.

Final revisions will be presented to the New York State Board of Regents for consideration early 2017.

Recommended Changes to ELA Standards:

Five subcommittee groups (Prekindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12 and Literacy 6-12), all of which included parents and educators, discussed the current ELA standards to determine whether each standard meets the criteria for what a student should know and be able to do at a grade level (or grade-band) in English language arts and literacy. Committees also had an opportunity to recommend new areas to strengthen the standards.

Recommended changes include to:

  • Streamline Reading for Information and Reading for Literature Standards by merging them together, identifying the unique skills related to literature and informational text, and ensuring a healthy balance of both types of reading across all grades; 
  • Refocus on Prekindergarten-Grade 2 Standards with some grade-specific changes and additions to the ELA Standards, including a strong emphasis on the whole child and the importance of play as an instructional strategy. This includes the need for additional guidance for P-2 on how the standards are implemented in the classroom, including sample instructional strategies and activities, definitions and clear connections to teaching English language learners and students with disabilities;
  • Create a New York State Early Learning Task Force to discuss concerns around the P-2 grades, including standards, program decisions, social emotional needs and how the content areas/domains work together in the early grades. This task force will be formed in the coming weeks;
  • Re-organize Writing Standards so they are easier for educators to use for curriculum and instruction. In addition to regrouping the standards, grade-specific changes are recommended across the grades to clarify language and ensure writing expectations are clear;
  • Use a Variety of Texts to balance literary and informational reading with clear guidance for teachers and to ensure students read both full-length texts and shorter pieces, as well as to encourage reading for pleasure; and
  • Provide Guidance on Text Complexity for all standards in the introduction to underscore its importance.

To provide educator support in the new learning standards, the committees recommended the following:

  • Develop New York State Resources and Guidance for the Standards: A set of learning standards cannot be properly utilized without the necessary guidance. The committees recommend developing a set of resources for standards, curriculum and professional development. These resources would include strategies and supports for students with disabilities and English language learners, as well as instructional strategies that could serve as examples in the classroom;
  • Include a Preface and Grade-Level Introductions for the new set of English Language Arts Standards that explains the importance of the standards and their intended role in a school instructional plan. The preface and introduction would outline a belief statement that includes references to best teaching practices and learning strategies that aim to foster a love of learning for all students;
  • Develop Clear Communications for Parents about the standards, with an explanation about the connections among standards, curriculum and assessments; and
  • Create a Glossary of Terms that contains words or important terms used within the standards.

Recommended Changes to Mathematics Standards

Seven grade band/course subcommittees (PreK-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Plus Standards) comprised of New York State P-12 classroom teachers, special education teachers, English language learner teachers, parents, curriculum specialists, school administrators and college professors discussed and made recommendations for possible revisions or additions to the standards.

Recommended changes include to:

  • Clarify the Standards so that educators, students and parents clearly understand the expectation, without limiting instructional flexibility. For example, recommended modifications would help better define the progression of skills and the transition of some of the 18 shared standards between Algebra I and Algebra II; 
  • Strengthen Coherency of the Standards to allow for a stronger connection of learning within and across grade levels. For example, one additional standard at the Kindergarten level would help solidify pattern recognition and creation from Pre-K to Grade 2.  In addition, standards regarding time and money would be added and current standards would be changed to smooth the transition of building these skills at the PreK-grade 3 level; 
  • Improve focus of major content and skills for each grade-level and course while providing more time for students to develop deep levels of understanding. For example, to remove the parabola/directrix/focus standard out of Algebra II and place it in the plus standards with the study of conics;
  • Maintain the Rigor of the Standards by balancing the need for conceptual understanding, procedural skill and application.  For example, clearly identify the fluency standards at the high school level; and 
  • Create a Glossary of Verbs associated with the mathematics standards.  This glossary contains a list of verbs that appear throughout the revised standards recommendations.