NYSUT, lawmakers react to common core changes

By Kelly McCarthy

February 12, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 10:50 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Members of the New York State United Teachers are disappointed with Common Core recommendations released Monday and approved Tuesday by state education committees. The teachers group said the proposed changes only skim the surface of the real problems facing teachers and students with the new standards.

The only delay included in the plan is for high school graduation requirements. The state committees want to extend the date for when students will have to pass the higher test scores to graduate from 2017 to 2022. That means students currently in third grade would have to pass the full Common Core standards.

The Regional Director of NYSUT said there are very few concrete improvements listed in the document, that it's mostly full of guidelines and potential funding for future budgets.

"They're still required to take these tests and there's guidance on these high stakes for the students, but it wasn't eliminated, so it really isn't a delay," said NYSUT Regional Staff Director Catherine Farrell. "So the true delay, the only delay was on the graduation requirements."

The only recommendation not passed by the board is one that would have made it more difficult to fire a teacher based on negative or failing test scores. That issue has been tabled for next month.

Farrell said teachers will continue to push for a full three-year moratorium on all high-stakes impacts, like students' test scores and certain teacher evaluations. Teachers are asking for more time in order to fix the teaching modules and to give teachers more professional development training of the new material.

"Get it right," Farrell said, "Go back and touch up the modules and make them age appropriate and grade appropriate. Deal with special education students and English language learners, none of that is addressed in what they're talking about."

Local politicians have received hundreds of e-mails and letters from parents and teachers who are unhappy with how the implementation of Common Core has been handled.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, thinks it's a good first step for the Board of Regents to recognize changes need to be made. But she hopes to see more action taken in the future.

"We're also now trying to figure out what this means for teacher evaluations and also for the high stakes testing," Lupardo. "We need to get way more into the details to be able to judge how this is going to work out overall."

Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, wants to see a delay in Common Core testing for two years, and has asked the Board of Regents to make that happen.

"We think it gives teachers time to study materials," Libous said. "It gives parents time to try and understand the Common Core curriculum as they are working with their children; we just think it makes a lot of sense."

To read the full document of recommendations approved by the state Board of Regents click here.