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New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at an education forum last year.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at an education forum last year.

Stephanie Snyder

Common Core survey responses put focus on standards for youngest grades

The state released final results of its online Common Core survey on Monday, which officials said garnered mainly positive feedback about the controversial learning standards from more than 10,500 respondents.

Seventy-one percent of survey responses were positive, according to the state data, and 29 percent of the responses disagreed with particular standards. Some Common Core critics called the survey, known as AIMHighNY, complicated and said it obscured broader critiques of the state’s Common Core-related policies by focusing narrowly on individual standards.

“The preliminary data from AIMHighNY show there is strong support for higher learning standards for New York’s students,” state education department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement. “However, the survey findings also indicate that adjustments are necessary, particularly in the early grades, to ensure our standards make sense for our students and schools.”

The results come as the Common Core standards, which list the skills students should learn at each grade level in English and math, are facing intense scrutiny. The survey was part of a legally mandated review of the standards prompted by growing anti-testing sentiment across New York and nationwide. Last week, a separate task force convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for changes to the standards, especially in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.

The state’s survey also reflected concerns about the standards for the youngest grades, which received the most feedback. The English standards prompted three times any many responses as the math standards. (Those results mirror preliminary data that state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia presented in mid-November.)

In total, the state said it received 246,771 pieces of feedback from 10,532 people. Nearly half of the respondents were teachers, and 32 percent were parents. That means about 2.5 percent of the state’s teachers participated in the survey.

The state teachers union provided another set of responses from four small Long Island unions. Their feedback was more mixed, with 46 percent asking for changes to the standards.

The survey was criticized by some as too lengthy and cumbersome — it allows feedback on about 2,000 individual standards — but also too narrow, since many parents and teachers worry about the relationship between the Common Core standards, state tests, and teacher evaluations, more than any individual standards. NYS Allies for Public Education, an advocacy group that encouraged students to boycott this year’s Common Core tests and said the state’s survey was “designed to silence legitimate criticism,” created an alternative Common Core survey.

The results of the state’s survey will now be analyzed by a committee of teachers who will recommend revisions to the standards.