A contingency of education groups representing a wide spectrum of interests that can sometimes be at odds with one another are uniting around helping the Common Core learning standards survive a bevy of criticism.
In a press release sent out today, the coalition of groups representing teachers, parents, school boards, superintendents and business groups — dubbed the “Educational Conference Board” — outlined five ways to do just that. The “action plan” included calls for more funding and professional development for teachers, but the number one priority was to “build understanding and support” for the Common Core standards.
It’s an apparent nod to the fierce push back New York education officials have received to its pace of implementation of the standards. New York became just the second state to tie its 3-8 math and English state assessments to the tougher standards, which were designed to offer a more genuine measure of college preparedness. As a result, about one in three students did well enough to earn a “proficient” or higher on the exams, a significant drop.
The most vocal criticism had come from the state teachers union, which objected to evaluating teachers based on the new tests last year. Manytteachers complained that they were ill-prepared to teacher to the new standards because the state was unable to produce as much curriculum as it had originally promised.
But the union, New York State United Teachers, was among the groups that signed off on the plan. And so was the New York State Parent Teacher Association, representing another group — parents — that has been critical of how the new tests are affecting classroom instruction.
It’s the second time since the test results were released, on Aug. 7, that a coalition has come out to publicly pledge their support for the standards. A day after the results were released, 40 CEOs from the state business community signed off on a letter that urged officials to not slow down the pace of implementation.
The coalition doesn’t include any groups representing charter schools. It’s made up of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts, the New York State Association of School Business Officials, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the New York State School Boards Association, and the School Administrators Association of New York State.
A version of the press release, published by NYSCOSS is below.
Five-point plan needed to keep the promise of Common Core
New York’s seven leading statewide education groups have come together to endorse a five-point plan to help all students and their schools meet the expectations of the new Common Core learning standards.
The Educational Conference Board (ECB), comprised of organizations that represent school boards, parents, superintendents, teachers, principals, business officials and other educators, has released a position paper entitled Common Ground on Common Core that outlines a plan to give students the support and resources they need to succeed under the state’s new Common Core learning standards.
Recent attention on student test scores, compliance with the new teacher and principal evaluation requirements, and recurring financial struggles has diverted resources and focus from student learning, the report states.
ECB Chair John Yagielski explained, “The Common Core learning standards are the right direction for our schools. These standards were designed to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live or what school they attend, are learning what they need to graduate from high school with the ability, not just to recite knowledge, but apply knowledge to real world challenges.”
Yagielski, a retired superintendent who previously led four upstate school districts, added, “The Common Core learning standards represent the most significant increase in student expectations that New York schools have ever faced. Therefore, to be effective, these standards must be properly implemented. Working together, the member organizations of ECB have identified actions that need to be taken to make these standards a reality in every classroom.”
The ECB’s five-point plan to put the focus on student learning and get the Common Core back on track calls for state policymakers to take the following actions:
- Institute a statewide campaign to build understanding and support for the importance and value of the Common Core Learning Standards.
- Invest in ongoing professional development to implement the Common Core.
- Ensure adequate state and federal funding to give all classroom teachers the tools, instructional materials, and technology they need to help all students meet the standards, including extra help for students most at risk of falling short of the standards.
- Reassess the state’s approach to student testing and address the most pressing concerns that parents and educators have expressed about testing.
- Establish an ongoing process for engaging key stakeholders in reviewing and refining implementation of the Common Core.
“Members of the New York State Educational Conference Board recognize that in order for education reform to effect positive and sustainable change, it is imperative that we examine both its merits and flaws. This joint statement reflects that belief and identifies common ground from which all stake-holders can advocate with a unified voice,” said Lana Ajemian, president of the New York State PTA.
“Superintendents across our state overwhelmingly believe the Common Core Standards hold promise for improving the quality of education our students receive.Â The actions in the five-point plan endorsed by all the state’s leading education organizations are essential to fulfilling the promise of the new standards,” said Robert J. Reidy, Jr., executive director, New York State Council of School Superintendents.
“The Big 5 school districts are moving forward with implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards as a part of their commitment to improve student achievement and ensure that every child is afforded a chance to succeed. The investment of adequate State and federal resources is critical to these efforts,” said Georgia M. Asciutto, executive director, Conference of Big 5 School Districts.
“We must focus on providing students and teachers with the time, resources and professional support they need to properly implement a deeper and richer curriculum,” said Andy Pallotta, executive vice president, New York State United Teachers.
“The Common Core’s tougher standards help insure that taxpayer dollars are producing the results needed for our students to remain competitive in a global economy,” said Michael J. Borges, executive director, New York State Association of School Business Officials.
“If we truly aspire to improve student learning, we need to focus more on the development of common core curricula, quality instruction and professional development and less on a testing regime used for the purpose of assigning labels to teachers and principals,” said Kevin S. Casey, executive director of the School Administrators Association of New York State.
“The ECB organizations came together because they want the Common Core done right,” said Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association.
New York adopted the Common Core Learning Standards to make sure students leave high school college- and career-ready.