Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Can Cuomo's task force rescue Common Core?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has committed to forming a task force to re-evaluate the controversial Common Core curriculum. But did he have a choice?

The Common Core was a thorny subject even before it rolled out in 2013 — which was a colossal mess by almost any standard. Opposition to the core has grown steadily since. 
click to enlarge Governor Andrew Cuomo - FILE PHOTO
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo

Opponents of Common Core argue that testing has become excessive and its importance is greatly exaggerated. Teachers say that the tests don’t provide information that is relevant to instruction.

Many parents are critical, too, saying that testing anxiety is making their children dislike school, which defeats the purpose of the new standards.

And there has been strong criticism concerning how the curriculum was developed, as well as a general lack of transparency about questions and scoring.

For a long time, Cuomo and his allies argued that teachers unions are behind the Common Core controversy because they oppose accountability. Maybe Cuomo assumed that he could direct the public’s frustration to teachers who are vehemently opposed to the use of the test scores in their professional evaluations.

That strategy failed miserably because as anyone who attended even a few of the many public meetings on Common Core could see, the anger is universal. Many parents, educators, and community leaders voiced their concerns to elected state officials.

Cuomo’s feud with the teachers unions helped fuel the growing opt-out movement. Roughly 20 percent of students statewide did not take the state tests in April 2015 – and more than twice that in the Rochester school district — which greatly undermines the credibility of teacher evaluations.

But there are many supporters of Common Core or at least of its intent: raising education standards in New York. Joe Klein, a strong local advocate of charter schools, says that frequent testing is critically important, particularly when it comes to teaching urban students, who often lag in reading and math proficiency. Helping them gain those skills requires real-time understanding of what they’ve learned, he says, and where exactly they need extra support.

Cuomo's 15-member task force, which will include educators, is supposed to provide the governor with recommendations sometime before the end of the year. It’s a reassessment that’s long overdue. 

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