PLATTSBURGH — State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and some of her colleagues have recommended several ideas they think would improve the Common Core standards for education.
Duprey (R,I-Peru) has joined her Minority Conference colleagues in outlining proposed solutions to the ongoing controversy over the Common Core standards.
Most parents and teachers across the state believe stringent educational standards are necessary, she said in a news release, however the rushed implementation of Common Core has created an unhealthy learning environment for New York’s children.
SEEN AS BULLYING
“The State Education Department requires special-needs students, including many who cannot read, to take the standardized tests,” Duprey said at a November forum hosted by SUNY Plattsburgh.
“Forcing these students who have IEP directives to sit through hours of testing is bullying. We need all students to be excited to learn.
“We cannot allow standardized testing, which forces teachers to teach to the tests, to treat our children as robots or educational experiments.
“Instead, we must provide the opportunity for our students to appreciate the value of creative learning as they develop into our future visionary leaders.”
The Minority Conference hosted 11 educational forums across the state, listening to testimony from administrators, teachers, parents and students.
While some can appreciate the potential value of Common Core, the majority have concerns about its effectiveness, Duprey said.
After gathering all the information and findings, the Minority Conference has come up with several solutions that it has compiled into the Achieving Pupil Preparedness & Launching Excellence (APPLE) plan.
This plan outlines options to help modify Common Core to make it more encompassing and effective, Duprey’s release said. The ideas include evaluating state assessments and curriculum, funding equality, teacher involvement and restriction of the use of student data.
Margarita Garcia-Notario, speaking for the North Country Alliance for Public Education, feels the conference’s plan does address some concerns parents and educators have expressed.
“We like the idea of independent review of the Common Core and Assessments,” she said via email. “We also find the requests on student data privacy of maximum importance.
“We would very much like to see Duprey and the Minority Conference take a position on the moratorium for consequences attached to the tests,” Garcia-Notorio continued.
“These tests are intrinsically unfair, and they are still counting toward our children, our teachers and our schools.”
‘GREAT STEP FORWARD’
The alliance is comprised of parents and families, teachers, administrators and others concerned about the state of public education in the North Country and the rest of New York, said Garcia-Notario, who has two children in the Plattsburgh City School District and is president of Stafford Middle School’s Family School Organization and co-president of Plattsburgh High School’s Community School Organization.
“We represent different schools, districts and points of view, but we find strength and common ground in our allegiance to New York’s public school mission and our commitment to ensure that all children are well served by its institutions,” she said of the alliance.
They are “very pleased” that the plan includes special-education students, Garcia-Notario said, “since what it is happening to them is one of the most concerning aspects of the Common Core and its implementation.
“Lastly,” she said, “it would be revolutionary if education were funded in a much more fair way than it has been done in recent years.”
Regardless, “Duprey’s plan is a great step forward,” she said. “We are immensely thankful for her advocacy for our children and understand how tricky political moves can get.”
— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.
Here are the Assembly Minority Conference's proposals:
Evaluate state assessments and curriculum: Prevent the State Education Department from requiring schools to use Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments until a comprehensive review of the Common Core Standards and PARCC is considered. Afterward, the new standards would be phased in on a grade-by-grade level, starting in first grade.
Funding equity: Eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment, the amount deducted from each district's state-aid allocation, over three years. Provide state reimbursement for implementing teacher evaluations, Common Core and PARCC. Provide reimbursement for school districts that expended resources to locally develop curriculum aligned to the Common Core.
Teacher preparedness: Place a higher priority on providing professional development for instruction on the Common Core curriculum and administration of the PARCC assessment.
Teacher involvement: Create an independent teacher panel to develop, review and approve age/developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessments based on Common Core guidelines. Give teachers access to test results to provide feedback to students.
Restrict use of student data: Limit the disclosure of student information by a school district or private school to those directly under the control of the district. Require written parental consent or written consent of an eligible student (age 18) before any information is disclosed to a contractor, consultant or other third party.
Equity for special-education students: Require testing to be conducted at the level decided on by the Individualize Education Program team. Convene a work group to analyze the Common Core standards, develop methods for different instruction for special-needs students, and identify best practices.
21st-century pathways: Create alternate ways to a high-school diploma, including a career and technical education. Increase state funding for BOCES to make it a resource for school districts rather than a financial burden. Encourage the incorporation of instruction in career and technical skills in classrooms.
Revamp the State Education Department: Allow the governor to appoint the commissioner of education. Require any changes by the Board of Regents that impose an unfunded mandate on schools to be approved by the State Legislature and governor.