State education leader: Survey mostly supportive of Common Core

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told the Board of Regents on Monday that feedback from a

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told the Board of Regents on Monday that feedback from an online survey had been largely supportive of the state’s controversial Common Core standards.

But she added that in her travels across the state she has received a lot of critical comments about how curriculum was developed from the standards and how those standards are tested in annual state assessments.

In her role as commissioner, Elia also sits on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force to review the Common Core standards and to provide recommendations by next month. She has traveled across the state, seeking input from teachers, parents and community members.

At a recent listening stop in Colonie, speakers panned the Common Core standards but were especially critical of the testing regime put in place to measure student success and evaluate teacher performance.

“The overwhelming concept I’ve heard throughout the districts is they are too long,” Elia said during an update to the regents Monday.

More than 5,500 respondents submitted at least one piece of feedback on the state Education Department’s AIMHighNY online survey, Elia said. More than 60 percent of the respondents were teachers and more than 20 percent were parents. The survey will remain open until the end of the month.

Of the people who filled out at least part of the survey — which covers every standard for every grade level — just over 70 percent indicated support for the standards, Elia said. Some of the comments, however, questioned the age-appropriateness of the reading standards for lower grades.

Elia said the Education Department has already taken steps to address some of the biggest concerns with the annual student assessments. The state has contracted with a new test developer which, Elia said, is relying more heavily on teachers to develop test questions. The state also plans to transition to online testing, which will create more flexibility on the assessment content, especially for students with disabilities.

She also pointed to some confusion about the role that the department’s curriculum guidance should play in local curriculum development. Districts and schools were free to borrow from the department’s curriculum “modules” or ignore them all together.

“What is required is everyone needs to have a curriculum that matches the standards,” she said.

The department is planning to develop a “teacher portal” that would allow educators to share curriculum programs and strategies they have found to be effective in their classrooms.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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