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September 26, 2018

Regents Decision to Modify Common Core Overdue but Not Enough


By Assemblyman Will Barclay
The Board of Regents approved changes to Common Core last week, including delaying full implementation of the graduation requirements by five years, from 2017 to 2022.

This means that instead of ninth graders being the first class to graduate with a Regents degree aligned with Common Core standards, it will now be this year’s fourth graders, the class of 2022, that will be the first class with a Common Core aligned Regents diploma.

The Board of Regents’ decision last week to delay full implementation of the graduation requirements was welcome news but still doesn’t go far enough.

Few take issue with the idea that we should raise learning standards in our schools and the idea of the Common Core is to do just that.

Indeed, 46 states including New York, adopted these standards.

The problem in New York and elsewhere has been with the implementation of this curriculum.

Last year, my colleagues and I held 11 statewide public forums on Common Core.

At these hearings, parents, teachers, students and administrators expressed their concerns with, among other things: (i) the “one size fits all” aspect of the common core, (ii) the lack of resources to help implement these new standards, (iii) faulty and incomplete teaching modules, (iv) over reliance on high stakes testing, and (v) the general unfairness of evaluating teachers on students’ success with a curriculum that has been quickly rolled out and which contains numerous flaws.

The Board of Regents stopped short of removing the evaluation’s close tie-in last week with student performance.

They stated they wanted the public to have more input and will comment on this aspect in April.

The Governor criticized the Board of Regents for altering the course of Common Core and its tie-in with teacher evaluations.

He believes they should be directly related.

More will be decided on this in April.

I believe that there are positives to the Common Core standards, including teaching our children to think critically.

However, we need to delay, for a time, evaluating teachers and students on their performance under the Common Core.

Along with a number of my colleagues in the Assembly, I am sponsoring legislation that would create an independent commission to thoroughly review Common Core.

This commission will examine how the Common Core is operating, how it is being funded, and provide recommendations on how to improve Common Core.

Once these improvements are made, we can then start evaluating students and teachers on their performances under Common Core.

In the meantime, here are other changes to our education system that I support:

* Eliminate the gap elimination adjustment. Districts are being handed a big mandate with Common Core, on top of countless others they already have. We should fully restore funding for education that was removed in 2010 and that disproportionately hurt low-wealth school districts.

* Restrict use of student data. While I’m pleased the Board of Regents has put this on hold for a year, I question whether the extent of information being shared with third-party vendors like InBloom is necessary at all.

* Reinstate the full value of individual educational plan (IEP) by allowing disabled students be assessed based on their instructional level and not their age.   In order to reinstate this policy, a waiver from the federal Department of Education is needed.  I’m pleased that the Board of Regents requested this waiver  last week.

* Provide enough funding and time for professional development. Teachers are expected to know and teach all new material with Common Core and it should come with more training.

* Create alternate pathways to a high school diploma including a career and technical education pathway by increasing state funds for BOCES.

A full report was published following the public forums our conference held in the fall.

You can see this report at http://www.scribd.com/doc/201479293/At-the-Educational-Crossroads.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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