Gov. Cuomo seeks changes to ‘flawed’ Common Core implementation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes a point during a meeting on tax cut proposals in the Red Room at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo has proposed cutting the state’s corporate income tax from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent and eliminating it altogether for upstate manufacturers. He also has proposed paying more state aid as an incentive to any of New York’s 10,500 local governments that impose hard 2 percent spending caps and cut their costs by consolidating services with other towns, villages, cities and counties. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who just a few months ago was defending the state Board of Regents’ implementation of the Common Core State Standards, now says it has been “flawed” and that he is creating a panel of education experts and legislators to review the problems and take speedy “corrective action.” He also called for an end to standardized testing for students in kindergarten through second grade.

The remarks, made Tuesday as part of his 2014-15 budget presentation to the state legislature, come after many months of what educators and parents say has been a disastrous rollout of the Common Core standards. Teachers have not had enough time to absorb the new standards and teach new curriculum; new Core-aligned tests have had multiple problems; and education officials have done a worse than poor job communicating to the public about the initiative.

As a symbol of just how wrong things have gone, a Web site maintained by the state Department of Education that provides Core materials for students and parents actually had links that sent students to other Web sites with vulgar material on it — and when asked about it, officials failed to tell the truth about it. Meanwhile, as award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York has been chronicling on this blog for well over a year (for example: here, hereherehere and here), the Core-aligned tests have been riddled with problems.; this post by Burris describes a ridiculous Core-aligned test being given to first-graders.

As governor, Cuomo doesn’t control education policy; the state commissioner of education is appointed by the Board of Regents, whose 17 members are elected by the state legislature. But he said that while he still supports the standards, he thinks the Regents have made mistakes in implementing the Core. He said, according to the written presentation:

 The way Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There is too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety. Parents, students, and teachers need the best education reforms – which include Common Core and teacher evaluations – but they also need a rational system that is well administered. We will assemble a panel that includes education experts and Members of the Legislature to make recommendations for corrective action by the end of this session on how Common Core should be implemented.

He also called for a ban on standardized testing for students in kindergarten through second grade:

We need testing to measure performance in the classroom – but too much testing can hurt, not help, education. There is no reason a school district should make a five year old take standardized tests. It is not how our young children learn. I propose eliminating standardized testing for all students in K-2nd grade – and we will ask our panel to review this proposal and make recommendations on this topic as well.

Cuomo has in the space of a few months moved from defending the Core implementation in the state, saying in October that change can be hard “even when it’s right,” according to this WXXI news story. By December, with protests around the state growing, he called the implementation “problematic,” and now he has taken another step by creating a panel to make improvements.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | January 21