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Sep 14, 2015 12:53 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Governor Calls For Review Of Common Core

Sep 14, 2015 4:18 PM

It’s about time.

That is the sentiment South Fork superintendents shared regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to reevaluate how the controversial Common Core education standards have been rolled out in the past few years.

On September 3, the governor announced that he is forming a commission to evaluate how these new standards—which focus on the core subjects of math, science, English, and history—were implemented in New York, saying the roll-out does not appear to be working. The commission will have until January to review the program and offer insights and solutions before the governor’s annual State of the State Address.

Several superintendents on the South Fork said they are happy the governor is finally listening to constituents who have been bashing the implementation of the Common Core for not allowing enough time for teachers to learn the new standards before imposing them on students—while at the same time tying teachers’ evaluations to test results.

“There has been an ongoing discussion about Common Core standards nationwide, and in this state as well,” Gov. Cuomo said in a release on his website earlier this month. “I have said repeatedly my position is that while I agree with the goal of Common Core standards, I believe the implementation by the State Education Department has been deeply flawed. The more time goes on, the more I am convinced of this position.”

The Common Core learning standards were first adopted by the State Board of Regents in January 2011. They were put into place in state public schools at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. New York is one of 45 states to adopt the new standards, which are supposed to help students better prepare for college and careers.

Frustration was already high among educators, parents and students regarding the new testing, and that escalated in April of this year, when Gov. Cuomo announced the Education Transformation Act of 2015, which increased state aid by $1.3 billion for school districts, but at the same time tied new evaluations of teachers to students’ Common Core test scores.

The new evaluation plan for teachers includes three components, with 60 percent of a teacher’s score based on classroom performance evaluations, 20 percent using a means of evaluation determined by the local school district, and 20 percent based on students’ Common Core test performance compared to that of other students statewide.

The new teacher evaluation will change the system so that 50 percent is based on a number called the “principal’s number,” which is assigned to school districts based on results of the English language arts and math assessments. However, not all teachers teach ELA or math, meaning that a large portion of a teacher’s final score might be based on a subject the teacher does not teach, and even on the test scores of students the teacher has never had in the classroom.

The remaining 50 percent of the grade is based on classroom observations and the locally decided assessment of teachers.

“I think the governor is responding to very consistent feedback from educators, from superintendents, teachers and school boards, parents, and grandparents saying that the roll-out of this shift to the Common Core standards needs to really be looked at,” Hampton Bays Superintendent Lars Clemensen said. “I think there was a lot of frustration across the state among all of those groups, and I am glad to see that he is responding to it.

“We educators are for higher standards,” Mr. Clemensen continued. “But what got muddy was a lot of the mandates and directives from the governor’s office, the commissioner’s office, and the legislature. There have been a lot of mixed messages, and what we have been left to do is try to make it work for the kids.”

According to Gov. Cuomo’s office, the review by the Education Commission will cover the implementation of the standards, the curriculum, guidance and tests. The commission will be composed of education experts, teachers, parents, the Commissioner of Education and legislative representatives.

“The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed,” Gov. Cuomo said in his release. “To that end, the time has come for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns. I am taking this action not because I don’t believe in standards, but because I do.”

Most superintendents said they do support the Common Core, but that the way it was handled was poor, and it was the students who ultimately suffered.

“Certainly, I believe that New York’s problem with implementation was how the Department of Education handled and rolled out the implementation,” Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said. “There are certainly changes that could be made to its implementation. I think that one of the biggest flaws was when they tried to integrate Common Core with teacher accountability. That should have been better thought out.”

Montauk Superintendent Jack Perna agreed with Dr. Farina, saying that several administrators on the North Fork have been suggesting exactly to what Gov. Cuomo is doing now.

“Common Core is more than just Common Core,” Mr. Perna said. “The fact that you reevaluate teachers on the test is ridiculous, and, quite frankly, if you look at some of the math questions and the way they are teaching some of the math things, it is also ridiculous. I’m not saying that nobody wants higher standards, or that nobody wants rigorous learning, or for kids to think. But let’s not get ridiculous.”

In general, the superintendents said they were encouraged by the state review, indicating that they are cautiously optimistic that positive changes might emerge.

“I am actually quite skeptical that a thorough review can take place between now and his stated goal of the opening of the legislative session in January,” Tuckahoe Interim Superintendent Dr. Allan Gerstenlauer said this week. “I think that something as complicated and complex and controversial as this needs a very, very thoughtful response, but I am hoping that this commission will include a broad representation of people in the field of public education who understand the impact of some of the proposals he has put forward over the last several years.

“I think it is important that practitioners have a word in that, because we see very clearly what the impact is when it gets down to a school level.”

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Im glad they are looking at this. Common core is a joke
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Sep 14, 15 4:17 PM
I saw some of my 6th grade nephew's math homework. Did you know that 6+6 does not = 12 unless you show all the steps that you used to arrive at the answer? What a flippin waste of time and funds!
By bigfresh (4249), north sea on Sep 14, 15 5:22 PM
how many steps can there be?
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Sep 14, 15 6:51 PM
Well it is hard to explain because it is meant to be visual but...if you have something like 6+9 for example...6+9=15 right? However if you add 1 to the 9 you get 10 and you then take that 1 from the 6 to make five...10+5 is 15 ergo 9+6 if 15...if you think I am kidding...I wish I was.
By Polandspring (83), Southampton on Sep 18, 15 2:47 PM
If you guys read that article, even the Superintendents agree with Common Core and the obvious problems it is trying to fix in NY State. Their problem with it is the hasty and insufficiently thought out implementation procedures.

No, the state of public education is far from OK and the east End is particularly in bad shape. Denying doesn't make things better. All the global metrics on developed countries in education show America to have slipped badly and are now in the tail end, and as ...more
By Obbservant (443), southampton on Sep 14, 15 7:35 PM
The real problem are teachers that feel they are untouchable after tenure. I've had my friends say they need tenure to "do what they need to do" without regard who's kid they belong to. I say that I've had teachers in the past that are completely in the wrong profession. I've also had some that I'll never forget as positive influences in my life. Teachers in NY State are well compensated. They're just upset that they're now being held accountable. Join the rest of us....
By lirider (265), Hampton Bays on Sep 14, 15 8:24 PM
So what we are saying is the whole industrialized world can lesrn a form of common core, but we are not intelligent enough? I don't believe that. We are complacent, and teacher's like to make excuses about hard work.
By chief1 (2660), southampton on Sep 14, 15 8:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
I find the reverse to be true. I have three kids n school and find most teachers to be passionate, caring and smart. Common core was designed by so called administrators with little to no input from teachers. It needs to be fixed
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Sep 15, 15 7:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Common core is about using skills to solve a problem, not following steps to get a result. It could be the best thing to happen to students in a long time. The questions I have reviewed were mediocre, but some have really pushed a students mind to solve problems while rewarding for understanding concepts.

Teachers will have to bear the burden of a new method, but Suffolk County teachers are compensated for their effort. I would like to know why teachers are so against it personally. The ...more
By Genuin (26), Hampton Bays on Sep 14, 15 10:58 PM
So Razza please explain what we should do about substandard education? The teacher's think we should proceed as ususl, which is ridiculous.
By chief1 (2660), southampton on Sep 15, 15 8:17 AM
Chief I am not an educator but I actually agree with Z. If two college educated parents, a former educator and a former math professor have difficulty with helping a 2nd grader do his math homework something is wrong. Most teachers I speak with dislike common core because it was designed by a bunch of administrators with little to no input from them. It needs to be fixed. I am also a firm believer that education starts in the home. Too many parents send there kids to school before laying a foundation ...more
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Sep 16, 15 6:46 AM
LMAO If two teachers and a professor can't figure out common core maybe they need to go back to school. I hate too tell you a lot of kids do well with Common Core.
By chief1 (2660), southampton on Sep 17, 15 10:37 AM
I am not in the minority in my opinion. Do you have children in school?
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Sep 17, 15 6:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
I brought my sons second grade math homework in to my CFO who is a very smart woman...she had a hard time with it. So don't talk down to people who have a hard time with common core math, it is a joke!

The fact is chief, common core isn't the right system the way it is being implemented right now. Changes need to be made in order for it to work... if it were to work at all. Frankly I don't think it can.
By Polandspring (83), Southampton on Sep 18, 15 2:56 PM
I work in the computer field. We deal in 1 or 0, true or false. Basic logic is good, basic math is not fuzzy logic.

I saw a great meme about the process. It went like this:

Q: "If you have four pencils, and seven apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?"
A: "Purple. Because aliens don't wear hats."

This "common core" method is simply not logical. It is messy, convoluted, and poorly structured. It doesn't teach logical thought or spatial reasoning, it teaches ...more
By Mr. Z (11114), North Sea on Sep 24, 15 8:42 PM
Oh wow, Chief1 has an opinion on a field he has no expertise in. Surprise. The problem lies in poverty. There is a clear correlation of students living in poverty and low performing in the classroom. However, this is no excuse. Education today is based on vocabulary acquisition because that is what the standardized tests are - reading tests. If you don't know the vocabulary you will not do well. Students living in poverty don't hear the same vocabulary in their homes that affluent students hear. ...more
By BaymenNYC (59), Manhattan on Sep 15, 15 9:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
| | | | + | | | | = 8

There's your "critical thought process".

I have seen the common core math process, and can only come up with one word: convoluted. What was so horrible about placing one number above the other, and carrying the tens digit to the next column? Talk about taking the long way home...
By Mr. Z (11114), North Sea on Sep 15, 15 11:03 AM
2 members liked this comment
Then don't teach common core. When little Johnny has no critical thinking skills don't blame the educational system.
By chief1 (2660), southampton on Sep 18, 15 12:11 AM
Come on chief. Several of us weren't taught common core and I think our critical thinking skills turned out just fine. Do you have children in the school system? What is the basis for your opinion? I think little Johnny would be just fine
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Sep 18, 15 7:08 AM
I would imagine that they don't have little Johnny memorize multiplication tables either? How about long division? Rote memorization worked for a very very long time!
By bigfresh (4249), north sea on Sep 18, 15 6:14 AM
We spend over 40k a year to educate each student in Southampton. Would you like to spend more? How about more days off? How about holding teahers accountable?
Im really tired of hearing what a great job the teacher's are doing, because it's not showing on test scores.
By chief1 (2660), southampton on Sep 20, 15 11:08 AM