Restart: New York State Dumps the Common Core and VAM and Returns Decision-Making to Educators

Restart: the Cuomo Task Force, [colloquially] report  says,

Let’s wipe the slate clean, let’s purge the years of John King, let’s get into the time machine and turn the dial to 2010, and rewrite history.


“After listening to thousands of parents, educators and students, the Task Force has made important recommendations that include overhauling the Common Core, adopting new locally-designed high quality New York standards, and greatly reducing testing and testing anxiety for our students. The Common Core was supposed to ensure all of our children had the education they needed to be college and career-ready – but it actually caused confusion and anxiety. That ends now. Today, we will begin to transform our system into one that empowers parents, teachers and local districts and ensures high standards for all students …”

The Governor bypassed the usual “three men in a room” negotiations that entangle issues; the elaborate, convoluted back and forth, the chess match to advantage or disadvantage one party or the other is gone. The report simply directs the Regents/State Ed to roll back the clock

The Education Transformation Act of 2015 will remain in place, and no new legislation is required to implement the recommendations of the report, including recommendations regarding the transition period for consequences for students and teachers. During the transition, the 18 percent of teachers whose performance is measured, in part, by Common Core tests will use different local measures approved by the state, similar to the measures already being used by the majority of teachers.

Remember the standards, former known as the Common Core, gone, we’re smart, we’re New Yorkers, let write our own standards.

 Recommendation 1: Adopt high quality New York education standards with input from local districts, educators, and parents through an open and transparent process.

 Recommendation 2: Modify early grade standards so they are age-appropriate.

Recommendation 3: Ensure that standards accommodate flexibility that allows educators to meet the needs of unique student populations, including Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners.

Recommendation 4: Ensure standards do not lead to the narrowing of curriculum or diminish the love of reading and joy of learning.

 Recommendation 5: Establish a transparent and open process by which New York standards are periodically reviewed by educators and content area experts.

Engage NY curriculum modules: confusing, varying widely in quality and not actually congruent with the Common Core, why can’t we develop our own standards and curricula and make them available to all educators across the state.

Recommendation 6: Ensure educators and local school districts have the flexibility to develop and tailor curriculum to the new standards.

Recommendation 7: Release updated and improved sample curriculum resources.

 Recommendation 8: Launch a digital platform that enables teachers, including pre-service teachers, and teacher educators, to share resources with other teachers across the state.

Recommendation 9: Create ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers, teacher educators, and administrators on the revised State standards.

Recommendation 10: Involve educators, parents, and other education stakeholders in the creation and periodic review of all State standards-aligned exams and other State assessments.

Recommendation 11: Gather student feedback on the quality of the new tests.

Pearson fiercely guarded the tests, writing contracts to keep questions secret: transparency builds trust, participation reduces resistance. The most useful assessments are the ongoing assessments that drive instruction.

 Recommendation 12: Provide ongoing transparency to parents, educators, and local districts on the quality and content of all tests, including, but not limited to publishing the test questions.

 Recommendation 13: Reduce the number of days and shorten the duration for standards-aligned State standardized tests. 

 Recommendation 14: Provide teachers with the flexibility and support to use authentic formative assessments to measure student learning.

The current, or, shall we say prior testing ritual, punished English language learners and Student with Disabilities.

Recommendation 15: Undertake a formal review to determine whether to transition to untimed tests for existing and new State standardized tests aligned to the standards.

Recommendation 16: Provide flexibility for assessments of Students with Disabilities.

Recommendation 17: Protect and enforce testing accommodations for Students with Disabilities.

Recommendation 18: Explore alternative options to assess the most severely disabled students.

And clean up obvious stupidities in the regulations.

Recommendation 19: Prevent students from being mandated into Academic Intervention Services based on a single test.

Recommendation 20: Eliminate double testing for English Language Learners

Why has it taken five years for the political establishment to realize that they created a fatally flawed system?

Our democratic system of government can be frustrating, Winston Churchill said,

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

 The founding fathers  fully understood that within a democracy factions vie with factions for control and power.

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

The system, at times awkwardly, began to work.

Anger grew, parents organized, teachers and their unions girded for endless conflicts, opt outs, demonstrations, TV ads, each jab resulted in a counterpunch.

Governor Cuomo has been called smart, arrogant, aloof, only concerned with his career, and, came to realize that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming locomotive.

I am frankly surprised, too many of the powerful never back off, they continue hammering away. The Gates and the Broads have misused their billions. Charter schools are not an answer to struggling schools, nor are the instant teachers or instant principals or superintendents; however, they continue to race down the reform track.

To Cuomo’s credit he jumped off the reform track, and, gave the parents and teachers what they asked for. Decisions impacting students and teachers will be made at the local level by superintendents hired by elected school boards within regulations made by the state educational leaders.

The new federal education law, signed today by the President,

… reverse[s] course with the stroke of a pen Thursday, putting states and districts back at the wheel when it comes to teacher evaluation, standards, school turnarounds, and accountability, through a new iteration of the five-decade old Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Arne Duncan can work on improving his basketball moves,  schools are the domain of the state, and the epicenter is the State Department of Education.

The problems haven’t disappeared; we have to figure out strategies to improve outcomes for our neediest, for new immigrants, for kids with disabilities. We have to honor our teachers, and, yes, when necessary to ask the few who are not succeeding to move on.  For a dozen years we could finger point at Washington, it was that truly terrible No Child Left Behind that forced us to measure, measure and measure and to close schools; the bureaucrats at the US Department of Education were driving classrooms around the nation.

The seventeen members of the Board of Regents, the new Commissioner and the yet to be selected new Chancellor now have the responsibility for education and the professions in New York State – an awesome responsibility.

3 responses to “Restart: New York State Dumps the Common Core and VAM and Returns Decision-Making to Educators

  1. There is still a persistent enduring issue that will in the short and long run impede or better yet negate the credibility of the work. Here it goes: Standards align to grade level skills, leaning goals (what students need to know and do) should be aligned to grade level content and standards, curriculum should be aligned to learning goals and tests should be aligned to curriculum.

    The Curriculum should be the linchpin, the center piece of the evaluation process along with the effectiveness by which the curriculum is delivered. So as long as individual teachers, schools, even districts are charged with developing curriculum (the content and skills) that are taught in the classrooms, there will be inequity and unfairness and gaps. No point to focus on teacher effectiveness when the centerpiece is amorphous


  2. Amen! Amen and Amen!


  3. Nothing has changed yet. The use of CCLS and the engage NY curriculum as well as all the trade aligned curricula should have been stopped immediately. Meanwhile life in the trenches of the classroom under these orwellian conditions is still going on. when a halt is called to their use, then we can shout amen. Not before.


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