Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Common Core Update

As you may have seen in the news this week, the State Board of Regents P-12 Education and Higher Education Committee adopted several measures that will adjust the implementation of the new Common Core Learning Standards and other aspects of the Regents Reform Agenda. Included are changes that will delay the impact of Common Core-related state assessments on high school Regents exams and reduce the level of local school district testing associated with the new teacher evaluation law. (View complete list of proposed adjustments.) 

In reality, most of the Regents measures were relatively minor adjustments. Perhaps the most significant development, however, was the Regents’ acknowledgement that the new Common Core Learning Standards require periodic review and updating. According to the Regents, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School officers “will use feedback provided by educators, parents, higher education faculty, special education advocates, business leaders and bilingual education experts from each state to conduct reviews and make adjustments where necessary.” 

The acknowledgement that it is necessary to allow for adjustments as change is implemented is a positive step forward. In our view, the state standards should always be reviewed and revised as teachers work with students in the classroom and parents provide feedback from what they are seeing at home. In fact, in our multiple correspondences with Commissioner King and state legislators over that past several months, we have continually urged them to listen to feedback from educators, parents and students regarding all aspects of the Regent’s Reform Agenda. Now they have stated in regulations that they will.  

There have been so many state mandates thrust upon schools in such a short time. We have publicly called upon NYSED to be cautious about pushing too much change at once. In order to help our families keep up with the changes,  we recently published a position statement jointly written by the BH-BL Board of Education and the District Leadership Team. The statement covers three of the major aspects of the Regents Reform Agenda: Common Core Learning Standards, Testing, and the Collection and Use of Student Data. On January 30, we posted the statement on our website and our facebook page. In case you have not seen it, we are providing you with the link:  

Please take the time to read this important statement. We are actively calling upon our legislators to limit the amount of testing that is required of our students. We are adamant about protecting student educational data and limiting the data that we share with NYSED to only that which is absolutely necessary to academics. 

Last October, we had an extensive community forum on the new NYS Common Core Learning Standards. In March, we will have a similar forum focused on testing. We also encourage you to review the extensive Common Core pages we have on our website to give you a more thorough understanding of Common Core, view the new standards, access helpful documents and links for parents, watch explanatory videos and more.

In closing, I would like to thank the board and leadership of our district for their vigilance in this matter. This has been a constant topic of conversation and study for the past two years. They have invested a great amount of time and energy in learning about the Common Core, overseeing the implementation, and advocating for caution and clarification as necessary. Despite the many changes required of us, we want to assure our community that the priority of the BH-BL Central School District always has been, and will continue to be, a high-quality, well-rounded education in a caring and nurturing environment, preparing our students to reach their highest potential in their adult lives.