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State Eyes Significant Changes To Common Core Standards

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia Wednesday announced that the state was seeking public input on its proposed revision of Common Core English and math standards.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia Wednesday announced that the state was seeking public input on its proposed revision of Common Core English and math standards. Photo Credit: nyse.gov

New York is weighing significant revisions to more than half of its Common Core academic standards for English and math, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced Wednesday.

Public comment is now being sought on the proposed changes through Nov. 4.

They could affect everything from literacy skills in the lower grades to algebra and geometry lessons in high school.

The tougher Common Core standards, which are the basis for tests given to third- through eighth-graders, drew a massive backlash from parents and teachers. About a quarter of all students refused to take the standardized exams this year, according to media reports.

The changes are set to begin in 2017, with adjustments made over the next two years.

The draft standards were based on recommendations made by two committees comprised of more than 130 educators and parents, the commissioner said.

Elia said she spent the past year of traveling more than 35,000 miles across the state to engage with parents, teachers and the public about the state’s learning standards and assessments.

The standards were reassessed with stakeholder input, specifically the Governor’s Task Force, which made its recommendations last December.

Last fall, the state surveyed more than 10,500 people and received more than 750,000 pieces of feedback.

“Learning standards form the very framework of our educational system, so it's critical that we get this right for all of our students,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa.

While helping teachers implement the new standards, the state will emphasize “educating English language learners, students with disabilities and other special populations,” Rosa added.

Elia said the changes reflect what she heard from parents, teachers and administrators during her travels.

“Now, we want to hear from educators and parents so we can develop the best learning standards to prepare New York’s children for their futures,” she said.

Recommended changes include: streamlining reading for information and literature standards across all grades; refocusing English Language Arts (ELA) standards in Pre-K through second grade; creating a state Early Learning Task Force; re-organizing writing standards; using a variety of texts to balance informational and literary reading; and providing guidance on text complexity.

To support teachers, the committee recommended: developing resources for standards, curriculum and professional development; including a preface and grade-level introductions for the news standards; developing “clear communications” for parents so they can understand the connection between standards, curriculum and assessments; and creating a glossary of important words and terms used by the standards.

Recommended changes to the math standards include clarifying the standards -- without limited instructional flexibility -- so teachers, students and parents can understand expectations.

For example, Elia said, the modifications would help better define the progression of skills and the transition of some of the 18 shared standards between Algebra I and Algebra II.

They would also strengthen the coherency of the standards. For example, one additional standard at the Kindergarten level would help solidify pattern recognition and creation from Pre-K to Grade 2.

A glossary of verbs associated with math skills would also be created.

The new draft learning standards for ELA and mathematics are available on SED’s AIMHighNY ( http://www.nysed.gov/aimhighny ) website for public review and comment.

To review the new draft standards for ELA, visit: http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-english-language-arts .

To review and comment on the ELA standards, please download the grade level you would like to comment on and then complete the survey questions.

To view a video of Elia commenting on the standards, click here.

To hear an audio of her on the same subject, click here.

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