By Tessa Raebeck
Following criticism from Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Tuesday the New York Board of Regents delayed the requirement that schools fully implement Common Core learning standards until 2022.
The regents also reversed their stance on a measure that would have allowed teachers to defend themselves should they face termination due to students’ low test scores.
On Monday, the state regents proposed 19 measures to address issues with the Common Core, a set of educational learning standards mandated by the state. Governor Cuomo issued a statement on Tuesday saying the action was “yet another in a long series of roadblocks” in the implementation of new statewide educational standards. On Wednesday, the board tabled its recommendation to delay teacher evaluations until April, although the other 18 measures were passed.
As it stands, teachers who receive a rating (calculated by a formula largely dependent on students’ test scores) of “ineffective” or worse for two consecutive years can face termination, even if they have tenure. The measure would have allowed teachers to defend their jobs on the basis of the poor implementation of the Common Core.
Education Commissioner John J. King, Jr. and the regents have faced harsh criticism for the Common Core rollout, which opponents said was haphazardly implemented without proper training, instructional materials and correlations between what is tested and what students actually know.
“We have listened to the concerns of parents and teachers,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch in a statement released Monday. “We’ve heard the concerns expressed at the hearings and forums, and we regret that the urgency of our work, and the unevenness of implementation, have caused frustration and anxiety for some of our educators, students and their families.”
The board delayed the requirement for high school students to pass Common Core-aligned English and math exams at the “college and career-ready” level in order to graduate. The full implementation will now be effective for the class of 2022, rather than the class of 2017 as originally planned.
The measures will also reduce local testing in a few ways, the board said, including the elimination of local standardized tests in kindergarten through second grade.
The board also delayed the launch of data collection by inBloom, a third party data warehousing company hired by the state to house students’ scores and private information—an especially criticized aspect of the implementation.
“The implementation of the higher standards has been uneven,” admitted Commissioner King, “and these changes will help strengthen the important work happening in schools throughout the state.”
The board also asked the legislature to fund a three-year, $545 million Core Instructional Development Fund aimed at “providing increased professional development for Common Core implementation, and to provide increased funding to reduce field testing, allow for the release of more test items, and support the development of native language arts assessments for English Language Learners.”
Prior to the regents’ announcement, local legislators and school officials gathered at the 10th annual Regional Legislative Breakfast to discuss the state of education. Hosted by the Longwood Central School District and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, the discussion largely centered around the detrimental effects of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) on schools and how to eliminate it.
The GEA was created in 2010 to partially reduce a $10 billion deficit in the state budget. Pushing the burden from the state to public schools, a formula was devised to calculate an amount to be taken away from each district’s state aid.
During the 2011-2012 school year, the GEA was used to allocate an unprecedented $2.56 billion statewide cut in aid. Under the GEA, New York public schools have lost a total of $7.7 billion, or about $2,895 per student.
Centereach High School student president Sim Singh asked the officials what the legislature’s plan is to abolish the GEA and “to meet the state’s financial commitment to fund public education.”
“The battle with this will be with the governor and it will be in the assembly,” replied Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Regardless of party, all legislators in attendance expressed their commitment to lobbying for the complete elimination of the GEA.
According to the legislators, Long Island is disproportionately affected by the GEA. Long Island enrolls 17 percent of the state’s students, but receives 12 percent of aid.
“I think,” said Senator Kenneth LaValle, “we’ve got to not only protect what we have, but we’ve got to push back on other regions of the state who may want a disproportionate share.”
Since the start of the GEA, Suffolk County alone has lost $185 million in state aid, or $734 per pupil. Sag Harbor has lost $934,584 and Bridgehampton has lost $308,874.
On Long Island, a total of 3,908 school positions have been eliminated during the three years of the GEA. Long Island schools are receiving less state aid this school year than they received in 2008-2009 ($2.54 billion vs. $2.62 billion).