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Top State Lawmakers: Halt Evaluations Using Common Core Standards

Kids in a classroom (file/credit: CBS 2)

Kids in a classroom (file/credit: CBS 2)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York legislative leaders Tuesday urged state officials to delay for two years the use of Common Core-aligned tests in teacher-employment and student-placement decisions, citing the “flawed rollout” of the new learning standards.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said in similar statements that they support preparing students better for college and careers. They said the state Education Department should continue to develop curricula aligned with the higher standards.

But “unless the Board of Regents acts to alleviate the concerns of parents, teachers and other educators, we call on the Regents to delay the use of Common Core tests for high-stakes decisions about teachers, principals and students for a minimum of two years,” a statement from Skelos, co-leader Jeff Klein and Senate education chairman John Flanagan said.

The Senate and Assembly leaders said the state also should delay plans for a statewide student database until the state addresses concerns about privacy and security.

Silver told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb there has to be a period of implementation and adjustment.

“You can’t propose an entirely new curriculum, an entirely new set of standards and say, ‘Here it is. Teach to it, and we’re evaluating everybody based on this,” Silver said.

Forty-six states have adopted the Common Core standards. But critics say the standards were rushed out in New York, leaving districts to scramble for teaching materials and teachers to test students on material they had not yet learned. Student scores on annual standardized tests dropped markedly after assessments for third through eighth grades were aligned with the new standards last spring.

The state’s largest teachers union has been calling for a three-year moratorium.

“The leadership has clearly heard the concerned parents and educators who support high standards but know that a moratorium on the use of standardized tests in high-stakes decisions is essential until the state Education Department makes major corrections to its failed implementation plan,” said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.

“Parents, principals and teachers spoke in one voice about how their children have suffered because of this grossly mishandled roll-out of the Common Core standards,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. “We gave our kids tests, and only after our children failed — and after that failure became part of our students’ permanent records — did anyone even think about getting teachers the curriculum and materials they need to help their students succeed. The New York State Department of Education needs a time-out to fix this, and to develop a plan that gets it right this time.”

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has acknowledged problems with the Common Core rollout, said a moratorium would be premature.  Cuomo said last month that he would appoint a panel of lawmakers and education experts to find and fix flaws by the end of the legislative session.

“Governor Cuomo believes that the best long term economic development strategy is ensuring New York State has the strongest possible education system,” Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa Derosa said in a statement Tuesday. “Common Core is an issue about which there has been a lot of dialogue. The Governor believes that we need to set real standards for our students and have a meaningful teacher evaluation system, and continues to support the Common Core agenda.

“However, the Governor believes that the way that Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed, leading to too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety among students and their parents. The strength of public education in New York is dependent on a rational system that is well administered.”

A separate panel of Board of Regents members is expected to make its own recommendations next week, according to a statement by Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Education Commissioner John King Jr.

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