After Public, Teacher Input, New York to Revise Common Core Standards

(Photo: Eve Edelheit, Times)

(Photo: Eve Edelheit, Times)

New York Education Department officials have made draft changes to improve Common Core academic standards with the pledge of better lessons that will also remain rigorous.

The streamlining of the Common Core criteria will be executed beginning in the 2017-2018 school year after the Board of Regents approves them in 2017, writes Lisa L. Colangelo for the New York Daily News.

The changes will be far-reaching, said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, but the state’s robust take on the national academic standards will not be watered down.

“With English Language Arts, more than 60 percent of those standards have changed and with mathematics, more than 55 percent have changed,” Elia said. “It isn’t just tinkering around the edges and doing small little things.”

The difficulty of Common Core caused a huge drop in state test scores in 2013, which angered educators and parents. Even now, test scores have not fully revived, and Common Core is still just as controversial.

The alterations, which include more fiction in reading lessons and the addition of glossaries to critical reading passages, have been supported by Common Core proponents including the NYC Education Department, teachers unions, and a variety of education advocacy organizations.

Stephen Sigmund, executive director of the nonprofit High Achievement New York, who has been against any changes to the standards, said he thought the changes simplified the curriculum and the revisions were an improvement.

But David Bloomfield, professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, disagrees.

“All students don’t learn at the same pace but teachers are encouraged to teach the standards rather than the child in front of them,” he said. “It doesn’t cure the limiting of the curriculum. As long as we focus on ELA and math there will be less time for the arts and less time for science.”

The basic principles of Common Core, known as the “anchor standards,” will, for the most part, remain the same, says Jon Campbell of The Journal News.

It was late last year when the state asked for public comment from parents, students, and teachers regarding the standards. Responses came from over 10,500 individuals. Other states have undertaken similar reviews of Common Core, which took the New York Education Department a year to complete.

Teachers and parents have stated that the Common Core reading benchmarks are not grade-level appropriate. Another change will be the inclusion of a stronger focus on interaction among students in pre-K through second grade as an instructional tool. And many of the changes focus on consolidation of various standards, especially when it comes to reading.

Some of the benchmarks were moved up a grade level so they were developmentally appropriate for students.

But Lisa Rudley, a parent who helped create the opt-out group New York State Allies for Public Education, says she would like to hear from the minority members of the committees who feel their ideas and concerns were not a part of the revisions, according to the Times Union’s Bethany Bump.

John Hildebrand, writing for Newsday, quotes the commissioner:

“Now, we want to hear from educators and parents so we can develop the best learning standards to prepare New York’s children for their futures.”