Common Core Gets a Haircut in New York State

For years now, you would have a tough time finding anyone in New York to admit that they liked the Common Core curriculum. Parents often refused to let their children take the tests. Teachers would complain that the new standards are too demanding and that they were never trained properly on how to instruct the students to prepare for such tests. Many students who performed well in class would do very poorly on the standardized tests, often hurting their self-esteem and confidence.

The March 2014 edition of Communique stated that the “common core standards were the work of individuals who had no experience in the typical tasks of public school teachers” and that the move to the higher standards was put forth by “private, for-profit interests”.

As of late 2017, there are at least 36 states that are still using the Common Core in their schools. New York, however, has recently taken a step back from this curriculum, and approved a new set of reading and math expectations for students, joining nine other states that have overhauled the program.

The changes may still take months or years to be implemented, but this all comes as welcome news for teachers, parents and students. In perhaps the biggest change, the state has combined two of its English/language arts standards, reading for information and reading for literature. The previous common core had these as two separate threads.

The changes came, in part, after ongoing pressure from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and their support of the opt-out movement. One in five students were refusing to take the exams, forcing Governor Cuomo to convene a task force that later issued a report acknowledging a hurried rollout and not enough clarity and training for teachers.

We will have to wait and see what the future holds for this controversial and reviled program. One thing we do know for sure is, with the United States ranked 39th in the world for Math and not a whole lot better in Reading or Science (according to Pew Research), we have a long road ahead of us if we are going to fix our Education system.

 

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