Confronting Common Core concerns

By Matt Porter

February 11, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 10:52 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The New York State Board of Regents voted to delay parts of the implementation of the controversial Common Core.

The full board elected to adopt 18 out of 19 recommendations to change the time table for the adoption of the new federal standards, mostly regarding when testing standards will take effect.

The board left one issue regarding whether or not failing teachers can contest their evaluations for the next month.

Broome-Tioga BOCES superintendent Al Buyck said an adjustment was needed after the state rushed the implementation early on.

"Clearly we went faster than the system could keep up with," Buyck said. "I think the fact that we can step back and make sure all the implementation phases are done well is a good thing."

The higher standards set by the federal government have been criticized by parents, teachers, and administrators.

Buyck said slowing the process down could help direct the conversation back to making things better for students.

"Let's stop the conversation about blaming and why didn't we do this, and why we didn't do that," Buyck said. "I hope our discussion is where are we, and what are we doing to move forward."

Superintendents like Jason VanFossen from the Maine-Endwell Central School District said the new standards should eventually become the minimum level of achievement.

However, he said students are not ready just yet for their exams to be scored at the new level.

"Before we can assess whether or not students are learning the new Common Core expectations," VanFossen said, "Teachers and the professionals need to have the opportunity to work through the curriculum."

High school students will not have to meet the new standards until 2022 after the vote.

And students in kindergarten through second grade will no longer take standardized tests. Some local districts had elected to test those grades as part of the new teacher evaluation requirements.

The vote also caps time spent taking standardized tests to one percent of class time each school year.

VanFossen appreciated the response from the state board.

"I think it was a genuine effort to listen to what parents and education experts were saying needed to happen, and I think they're doing it with the best interests in mind," he said.

The only issue left on the table is how teacher evaluations will be used; something Governor Andrew Cuomo has said shouldn't be watered down.

The issue has been tabled for the next month.

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