September/October 2013 Issue
- Testing/Assessments & Learning Standards, APPR/Teacher Evaluation
September 13, 2013

Common Core: The debate, the reality

Source: NYSUT United

NYSUT and its national affiliates, American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, support the potential of the Common Core Learning Standards.

Whether the standards can strengthen how students are prepared for college and careers is an important debate. What is not up for debate is the state's rushed and flawed implementation that placed unfair burdens on educators, students and parents, who continue to be frustrated by scant state-provided resources and support.

Last spring, the State Education Department, ignoring the union's request to slow down the pace of implementation, plunged forward with Common Core-based assessments that did not reflect what many students had been taught.

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Two-thirds of New York state teachers polled by NYSUT said students last school year lacked basic necessities, such as Common Core-aligned textbooks. Parents, in a separate NYSUT poll, said they knew very little about Common Core and were concerned about obsessive state testing.

"It was unconscionable that SED rolled out tests ahead of curriculum without ensuring all teachers and students had the resources they needed to succeed," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi. "SED has consistently put the cart before the horse."

The emphasis and obsession with standardized testing continues to tarnish the Common Core's potential.

As 45 states around the country put the new standards into practice, NYSUT and its national affiliates continue to advocate for what teachers and students need, and to stress what is also not up for debate - that the practitioners' knowledge and expertise are central to "getting it right."

NYSUT has taken the lead in developing Common Core resources to give educators the tools they need to make the proper transition and the tools to help parents understand how the new curriculum impacts their child's learning.

"NYSUT members are working to meet what is a monumental challenge - using the collective power of our professional voice to press for necessary change, while simultaneously tackling the everyday classroom realities of implementing Common Core," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.

"As the debate continues, NYSUT clearly understands that Common Core and testing are not the magic wands for increasing student achievement," she said.

The articles that follow highlight how educators are working to advance student learning around Common Core and to engage parents in the conversation.