LaValle to King: Delay Common Core rollout now

01/23/2014 1:11 PM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Senator Ken LaValle at a previous Calverton Business Incubator event.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle wants New York to delay Common Core rollout.

State Senator Ken LaValle is calling on education department commissioner John King to “hit the delay button” with rolling out new, more rigorous curriculum in public schools through the Common Core.

Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) issued that statement Thursday after Mr. King’s meeting with the state Senate Education Committee, with the senator saying the state Department of Education “is not listening” to concerns brought up about the Common Core during numerous and contentious public meetings held throughout the state.

Mr. King visited Manorville last November in one of several forums held statewide. Parents and teachers in attendance largely blasted the education commissioner, with many holding signs stating: “We are all more than a score.”

“The rollout of Common Core has been flawed and children are being hurt,” Mr. LaValle said. “There is an immediate need for something to happen since the process has collapsed. I would like the commissioner to hit the delay button today.”

The Common Core State Standards initiative has been adopted by most states across the country. The initiative claims to better prepare students for college and careers by requiring instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age.

After New York adopted Common Core, the state published lesson plans for teachers to help students achieve the new standards. The state doesn’t mandate that schools use these lesson plans, but they are available online at engageny.org.

Earlier this year, and as part of Race to the Top requirements, the state did direct New York school districts to develop their own teacher evaluation systems, known as annual professional performance reviews plan (APPR), lest the districts risk losing additional available state aid.

The state Department of Education has been heavily criticized by school officials across New York for pushing the new mandates before districts were ready for them.

While many educators embraced Common Core when it was first introduced, they’ve since demanded that the state hold off on implementing the new student assessments based on Common Core and the APPR plan until the rigorous curriculum is properly implemented inside the classroom.

John Flanagan

State Senator John Flanagan

Fellow Republican state Senator John Flanagan of East Northport proposed several bills last month to reevaluate the state’s rollout of Common Core, including a one-year delay with using a controversial method of storing student data electronically, and a ban on standardized testing for students in pre-K through second grade.

The bills were approved this week in the state Senate education committee, which Mr. Flanagan chairs. They are in the process of going through the state Assembly education committee, and if they pass, will be voted on the respective house floors.

Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also called on banning standardized testing for students in pre-K through second grade during his budget address Tuesday. For the first time publicly, Mr. Cuomo acknowledged that the state’s rollout of Common Core hasn’t been handled properly. Specifically, he said “…the way that Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed.”

“There is too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Parents, students and teachers need the best education reforms which include Common Core teacher evaluations, but they also need a rational system that is well administered.”

The governor also proposed creating a new panel of education experts and members of the Legislature to come up with a list of recommendations to correct the Common Core rollout by the end of this session.

Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch and Mr. King issued a joint press release shortly after Mr. Cuomo’s speech and said they have opposed standardized testing for young students and emphasized the state “has never tested K-2 students.”

They also pointed out how the education department has made recent adjustments to standardized testing, such as reducing the number of questions and testing time on state assessments for students in grades 3 through 8 this school year, and receiving a federal waiver to stop “double testing” in math for seventh and eighth graders through a combination of state and federal testing. In addition, they said the state is in the process of asking the U.S. Department of Education for another waiver to ease testing requirements for ESL students and students with disabilities.

Ms. Tisch and Mr. King said they believe Mr. Cuomo’s proposed panel, along with the Regents’ work group, will be able to “continue to strengthen Common Core implementation.”

“We remain fully committed to the Common Core, but we welcome constructive refinement to implementation to help meet that goal,” the joint statement reads. “We look forward to working with the governor to improve implementation while maintaining the higher standards we have set to ensure that New York’s students have every opportunity to succeed in life.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

John-King1

CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO | Education commissioner John King, left, and Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch.