Common Core needs overhaul, new name in New York, task force recommends

Friday, December 11, 2015

WASHINGTON -- New York state should overhaul and rename the Common Core learning standards, reduce student testing and wait four years to make test scores part of teacher evaluations, a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

"It is time to right the ship," Common Core Task Force Chairman Richard Parsons wrote in delivering the recommendations to the governor.

The report follows Cuomo's call for a "total reboot" of the Common Core amid criticism that the state had rushed out the college-driven standards without adequate teacher training or materials, and too quickly linked them to standardized tests used to rate teachers and students.

More than 20 percent of New York students sat out of the tests in April in protest of the time-consuming, high-stakes assessments.

"The Common Core was supposed to ensure all of our children had the education they needed to be college and career-ready," Cuomo said in a statement, "but it actually caused confusion and anxiety. That ends now."

The Common Core standards were developed by the National Governors Association and state education leaders as a uniform set of skills students should master in each grade to be ready for college. But they have been criticized as intrusive and are under review in several states.

New York's revised standards and assessments should include input from local educators and parents, the report said, and allow flexibility for students with disabilities or who are learning English.

The recommendations were universally praised by the state's largest teachers union, advocacy groups and lawmakers.

Also among its 21 recommendations included: to reduce the number of days and shorten the duration for standardized tests; to gather student feedback on the quality of the new tests; and to create professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.

"Importantly, the report does not retreat from high academic standards, but does acknowledge that curriculum decisions rightfully belong at the local level, said Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association and task force member.

Because reviewing and adopting new standards, adapting curriculum and creating assessments would take years, any current Common Core-aligned test should not count for students or teachers until the 2019-20 school year, the report said.

The recommendations require no new legislation, it said.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a member of the task force, noted the report was released within hours of President Barack Obama's signing of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the overdue successor to No Child Left Behind.

"Americans across the country have been fighting for a reset in education policy," Weingarten said. "This report, like the Every Student Succeeds Act, delivers that reset."