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Topic: NY Teachers: Put Common Core on Hiatus
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
NY Teachers: Put Common Core on Hiatus
Posted: Jan 28, 2014 3:11 PM
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From The Journal [Transforming Education Through Technology], Monday,
January 27, 2014, See
NY Teachers: Put Common Core on Hiatus

By Dian Schaffhauser

This weekend's decision by the board of the New York State teachers
union to demand that the state pull out of the upcoming Common Core
tests [ ] - at least for a while - may
start a domino effect across the country, emboldening teachers in
other states to push back against the new assessments. Already, the
National Education Association [ ] has publicly
voiced its support for the vote of "no confidence" given in New York.
The showdown comes at the same time that the state is hammering out a
new budget that calls for a 3.8 percent increase in spending on
education, which NYSUT has called "woefully inadequate."

The fireworks began Saturday when the New York State United Teachers'
(NYSUT) [ ] board of directors, which represents
600,000 teachers in the state, unanimously approved a resolution
declaring "no confidence" in the policies of the New York State
Education Department [ ] and its head,
Commissioner John King Jr. The board also withdrew its support for
the Common Core standards as adopted by the state until the education
board "makes major course corrections to its failed implementation
plan" and agrees to a three-year moratorium on "high-stakes
consequences" from standardized testing.

Along with the Common Core action, the board has also asked the Board
of Regents in New York [ ] for the
removal of King from his position.

New York, which is a member of PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment
of Readiness for College and Careers
[ ], pursued an accelerated
timeline for adoption of the new state standards. Starting in the
2012-2013 school year, all English language arts and math instruction
(with the exception of grades 9 through 12) was to be aligned with
the Common Core.

To support that expectation, the state provided curriculum modules
and lessons in both sets of subjects that could be adopted or adapted
by districts and schools. However, work on the curriculum was
seemingly one step ahead of the standards themselves. During summer
2013, the department posted modules that hadn't been completed in
time for the 2012-2013 school year for the upcoming semester; modules
for the second semester were made available in the winter just before
that that semester began.

On top of that, the state began the work of handing out Race to the
Top funding to local education agencies and their partners to
implement and enhance systems that would help with recruiting,
training and rewarding teachers and school leaders who showed
particular standards of effectiveness in schools in economically
disadvantaged areas. The new work was to be tied to New York's Annual
Professional Performance Review system.

In other words, a lot of change was afoot - perhaps too much, by the
standards of the teachers union.

"The clock is ticking and time is running out," said to NYSUT Vice
President Maria Neira. "Students sit for a new battery of state
assessments in just a few months. It's time to hit the 'pause button'
on high stakes while, at the same time, increasing support for
students, parents and educators. A moratorium on high-stakes
consequences would give SED and school districts time to make the
necessary adjustments."

According to Neira, the union has been sounding "warning bells" for
several years about the over-emphasis on standardized testing and the
state's "rushed and unrealistic timeline" for introducing curriculum
and assessments tied to the Common Core state standards.

The union is seeking:

. The release of all test questions, so teachers can use them in
improving instruction;

. More education funding from the state;

. More time for educators to review the modules and lessons that
align with the standards;

. Additional tools, professional development and resources for
teachers to address the needs of all of their learners, including
those with disabilities and those who are English language learners;

. Postponement of a graduation exit exam based on the Common Core;

. A delay or "a moratorium" on "high-stakes consequences" for
students and teachers to give participants more time to "correctly
implement" the Common Core; and

. Better forums to engage parents on the issue of standardized testing.

The NEA [ ] stands behind the NYSUT board vote. In
a statement, President Dennis Van Roekel said that although the
Common Core provides "real opportunities" for students, "we owe it to
them to provide teachers with the time, tools, and resources to get
it right. Educators in New York were given no choice but to make a
strong statement against the inadequate implementation of the
standards. Teachers, administrators, parents and communities must
work together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and
assessment, and this isn't being done in New York."

Van Roekel pointed to Kentucky and California as state role models,
"where educators and parents were involved in crafting the
implementation plan from the beginning." California recently
eliminated state testing in schools for a year in order to give
additional time to educators to put the Common Core standards into

An NEA poll in fall 2013 found that only four in 10 teachers said
they were participating in the implementation of standards within
their schools.

The smaller American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
[ ] took a more circumspect stance regarding
NYSUT's decision. While agreeing that there are problems with the
rollout of the Common Core in some states and districts, AFT also
emphasized that the new standards are not to blame for many of the
challenges faced by education today.

"Policymakers are confusing the standards with the tests that measure
whether students are progressing toward them. In places like New York
state, this public policy is the equivalent of pulling the carrot out
of the soil to see if it's growing - hurting, not helping, the carrot
in the process - when you can already tell from what you can see
above ground that it's not ready to be harvested," wrote Marla
[ ],
assistant to the AFT president for educational issues. "Standards,
implemented well, are the antithesis of the factory model of
education that has helped make access to high-quality instruction
into a ZIP code-based lottery. The Common Core provides a chance to
break that downward spiral, starting in the place it matters most:
the classroom."

What's needed, Ucelli-Kashyap wrote, is "sound policymaking that
listens to the informed voices of educators; time and support for
professional learning and collaboration to put standards into
practice; a moratorium on the consequences of testing until educators
and students have made the transition; and alliances with community
partners to ensure that education policy and practice aligns with a
shared vision of equitable and engaging public education."

The budget put forward by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
] calls for an increase in education spending of $807 million for a
total of $21.9 billion. However, NYSUT insisted that 70 percent of
the state's school districts are operating with less state aid than
in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, and that total formula aid in the
proposed budget is nearly $300 million less than five years ago.

Next, the NYSUT resolution will go to 2,000 delegates at a union
representative assembly, being held April 4-6 in New York. The same
resolution calls for an end to New York State's use of InBloom
[ ], a set of free cloud-based tools that
allow teachers and principals to improve management of student data.
InBloom was created by a non-profit organization with the same name
and funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
[ ].
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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