Cuomo calls for review of Common Core standards, curriculum, tests

Date Posted: 
Friday, September 4, 2015

 

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, citing growing parent opposition to Common Core testing, called Thursday for a sweeping review of the state's academic standards, curriculum guides and exams.

The governor's announcement made no mention of a related and highly controversial state policy that links students' scores on state Common Core tests to evaluations of teachers and principals. Cuomo has been a strong proponent of such job ratings, while leaders of the test opt-out movement have urged its elimination.

Cuomo said he would ask a group of academic experts, including the state's new education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, to make recommendations for changes in state policy within the next several months. He pledged to address the issue in his State of the State address in January.

"We must have standards for New York's students, but those standards will only work if people -- especially parents -- have faith in them and in their ability to educate our children," Cuomo said in a news release. "The current Common Core program does not do that. It must.

"The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed," he said. "To that end, the time has come for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns. I am taking this action not because I don't believe in standards, but because I do."

Much of the review that the governor endorsed Thursday already is underway.

Elia, who took office July 1, is examining state academic standards in accordance with a law approved in June by the governor and state legislators. In addition, the commissioner is reviewing the state's teacher-evaluation system at the direction of the state Board of Regents, to which Elia reports.

In April, parents across the state pulled more than 200,000 students in grades three through eight out of testing in English language arts and mathematics. The revolt against Common Core tests, which drew its greatest support from families in Nassau and Suffolk counties, was the biggest in the nation.

In Thursday's statement, the governor blamed the State Education Department for a "deeply flawed" rollout of national Common Core standards and testing, which have been adopted by New York and most other states.

Many education experts have agreed that the department rushed the standards into place too hurriedly under pressure from federal authorities, who granted the state nearly $700 million to help with the effort. But those same experts have noted that Cuomo himself contributed to the controversy by insisting that the state increase the role of standardized test results in teacher evaluations.

Parent boycott leaders have contended that links between testing and job evaluations exert too much pressure on students and teachers alike.

Jeanette Deutermann, of North Bellmore, the mother of two who leads the grassroots group Long Island Opt Out, directed her comments at the governor when she learned Thursday of his announcement.

"Parents have been begging and pleading for those in a position of power to fix this system of Common Core high-stakes testing that has decimated our children, their teachers, and their classrooms," Deutermann told Newsday. "Governor Cuomo has been at the forefront of abusing and distorting the original intent of Common Core and testing. Parents have little faith that this same governor will in fact reverse his own laws of teacher accountability that he had so callously forced through. Our children have paid a very high price for these educationally unsound experiments that they have been subject to for the past four years."

Carl Korn, spokesman for New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teacher union, said the governor's announcement is "a sign that the concerns of educators and parents are being heard and hopefully will be addressed."

"There is near-unanimity that the overreliance on standardized testing is sucking the joy out of teaching and learning," Korn said. "New York State needs to get back to trusting educators and doing what's most important for students, and that's teaching -- not testing."

This article first appeared in Newsday.

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