New York State has postponed the implementation of a Common Core standards assessment test for the 2014-15 school year, straying from its original timeline. Despite their membership in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), New York is still undecided about using the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessment test. Many educators on Long Island, who feel the standards were introduced too quickly, support the delay.
“The lack of time to do real, sustained professional development to get teachers to understand what [the standards] mean and how that translates to classroom practice was [a] huge challenge,” said Dr. Wafa Deeb-Westervelt, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Port Washington.
Delaying the implementation of an assessment test for at least a year gives teachers more time to get comfortable with the teaching the standards, elevating some pressure associated with the exams.
Common Core has affected the difficulty of questions being asked in classrooms, forcing teachers to encourage rigorous thinking and examine the origin of answers, especially in math. One 6th grade math teacher on Long Island, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the controversy surrounding the standards, appreciates that the Common Core forced her to “up her game” and adopt a more challenging teaching method. “I’m not planning to scale that back in any way,” she said. “I’m glad everything has calmed down a little bit and the state is releasing more information, which is helpful to the teachers, but I will stay with the rigor it’s being taught.”
In response to pressure from educators the state department of education released 50 percent of the 2014 New York State Common Core-based assessment test questions, 25 more than they released in 2013. The results showed little improvement in math, and no change in ELA scores. Students’ Common Core exam scores no longer directly affect the new teacher evaluation, the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR).
Here are examples of fifth grade ELA and math questions:
Standardized tests have long been criticized for ignoring individualized learning needs. Slowing the pace of Common Core is especially helpful teachers of students with special needs.
“Slowing down he program gives my students more of a chance to grasp the concepts,” said Maria Crowley, a resource room teacher in Hempstead.
Crowley and teachers statewide are most concerned with helping their students succeed. By changing the Common Core timeline, and releasing more test information to educators, New York is finally acknowledging flaws in the program educators have seen since it was introduced.