May 1, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on testing to the Common Core State Standards until there’s more time for teachers to prepare and students to learn the new curricula before an Association for a Better New York audience of educators, pols and business owners. Watch Video
The Common Core is designed to test students’ ability to think critically and apply knowledge, but is drawing the ire of parents and teachers because students are being tested on items and information they have not yet learned.
New York is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core Standards, but is one of the few states to issue exams that integrate the new standards.
Last week the Office of State Assessment issued the English Language Arts exams to third to eighth grade students and early reports revealed that students were unable to complete the exam’s writing assignments.
Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education and public school parent, during a question and answer session after Ms. Weingarten’s speech said she’s been very frustrated by witnessing her seventh-grade child lose sleep because he’s been distressed over taking the tests.
“It’s not OK that my son has to wake up at 6:00 in the morning and worry about whether he will advance to the next level if he doesn’t pass the test,” said Ansari.
The genesis of Common Core stems back to 2004 when the education non-profit, Achieve, released the “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts” report that called for establishing rigorous standards to ensure that high school students have the necessary skills to work for employers in a very competitive global economy.
Weingarten said the AFT isn’t opposed to the Common Core. She noted a recent poll conducted by the union revealed 75 percent of the membership is in favor of the new standards that emphasize conceptual understanding.
“We’re not saying that students shouldn’t be assessed or teachers evaluated,” said Weingarten.
But she called for the moratorium on testing that integrates Common Core until a new plan is in place that includes a curriculum and professional development for and input by teachers.
“I’m proposing that states and districts work with educators to develop clear tasks and a clear timeline to put in place these crucial elements of Common Core and of Common Core implementation. Until then, the tests should be decoupled from decisions that could unfairly hurt students, schools and teachers.”
Weingarten also noted the next few months will determine either the promise or downfall of Common Core.
“Common Core standards will result in one of two outcomes: They will either lead to a revolution in teaching and learning, or they will end up in the overflowing dustbin of abandoned reforms with people throwing up their hands and decrying that public schools just don’t work.”
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