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Regents take step back on Common Core, Cuomo says 'too little, too late'

Common Core forums have been held in recent months as the Board of Regents explain the Common Core model

The State Board of Regents is poised to delay some requirements of the federal Common Core standards. Some state lawmakers are still questioning, though, whether the Regents are going far enough to remedy what critics say is a “flawed” roll out of the new standards.

The State Board of Regents, facing pressure from Governor Cuomo and the legislature, is recommending that the effects of the new high stakes testing on students, designed in response to the Common Core, be delayed  for five more years.

Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch, in a statement, offered an apology.  “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,” Tisch said.  

High School Seniors were to be required to pass new Regents exams in English and Math that incorporated the new Common Core standards by 2017. Now, says Education Commissioner John King, passing those tests will not be a requirement for graduation until 2022.

King says if the high stakes tests are used for determining student placements in the lower grades, then the students will not be penalized if they do poorly on the exams.

The Regents would also grade the student’s test results on a curve. Currently, those who scored a 2 or lower were judged to be not meeting the required standards, now children who receive a score of 2 or higher will be considered on track for meeting the new Regents requirements for high school graduation.

The Regents also plan to work with local school districts to cut down on “unnecessary” tests.

And the Regents would also develop a different curriculum for mentally disabled children, instead of holding them to the standards of the non-disabled students.

While students will be given a break under the Regents changes, teachers will not. Instructors will still be held to the new Common Core standards for their recently designed teacher evaluations. But now if they are fired within the next two school years, they will be allowed to argue that they were unfairly judged by the Common Core standards, and that their school district, had not given them the resources to properly prepare. 

The teachers unions had sought to delay the impact of the new high stakes tests on their evaluations for another three years. A spokesman for New York State United Teachers says the proposal “falls short”.

Earlier this month, legislative leaders called for a two year moratorium on all effects of the Common Core, for both students and teachers, and said if Regents did not act, they would.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, says he and his GOP members need to mull over the Regents actions before deciding whether to continue to push for a moratorium.

“And then I would make a determination as to whether there should be a moratorium or not,” Skelos said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says the Regents have taken steps to address some of the lawmakers, and parents’ concerns.

“I think today’s actions alleviate some of the tensions that parents have had,” Silver said. “There may be some things that have to be done statutorily.”

Governor Cuomo, on Friday appointed his own panel to look at how to fix it. Both Senator Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver were allowed to appoint representatives to that panel. Silver says he wants to wait for the recommendations from that panel before deciding what, if any laws need to be passed.

Governor Cuomo, in a statement, reacted harshly to the Regents actions, calling them “ too little too late”, and saying the actions are yet another “excuse” to delay the teacher evaluation process.

Cuomo even questioned the Regents competence, saying “the time has come to seriously reexamine its capacity and performance”.

The full Board of Regents will vote on the changes to the Common Core in a meeting on Tuesday.

Here's a link to a forum about the Common Core held by WXXI's Need To Know Rochester program.

Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio.
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