New York is one of all but four states nationwide that has voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards, a U.S. education initiative that seeks to align diverse state-to-state curricula. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
Administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders have all contributed to the creation of a shared set of educational standards for English language arts and mathematics. The initiative is designed to increase the quality of education by making clear to every student, parent and teacher what is expected of students in every grade level.
Authors of the standards point out that focusing on core concepts and procedures beginning in the early grades will give teachers the time they need to teach their students well and to master the concepts.
“With students, parents and teachers all on the same page and working together for shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from school prepared to succeed in college and in a modern workforce,” the initiative says.
Since its adoption on July 19th, 2010 by the New York State Board of Regents, Long Island schools have been working to implement the initiative’s standards and process their impact.
According to a recent Suffolk Times article, Southold School District Superintendent David Gamberg said he hopes to give teachers time to revamp their curriculums to reflect the new standards. “Teachers need time to be reflective,” he said. “It’s about having a critical thinking lens. That realization is one of the shifts, and it’s a big shift for teachers … It’s process and not just content. That’s a shift.”
Southold Elementary School Principal Ellen O’Neill said that by the end of high school, 30 percent of student reading will be literary and 70 percent informational. “This approach is not an inch deep and a mile wide,” she said. “There will be fewer topics, but they’ll be much deeper. The mindset here is they will be able to take what they know and use it in other situations.”
Last year a Times Beacon Record article reported that when the Three Village School District incorporated the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices into its curriculum for grades pre-K through 12, Anne Rullan, executive director of curriculum and instruction said the standards will shape "how is it that students approach learning mathematics—their work behaviors." She said that they will include abstract reasoning, problem-solving skills, and being able to explain their thought process.
But not all educators are so receptive to the initiative. In a recent New York Times article, Arthur Goldstein, an E.S.L. teacher and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, said, “If you consider students as individuals (and especially if you have a reasonable class size), you can better meet their needs.”
“Considering that, it’s remarkable that the impending Core Curriculum fails to differentiate between native-born American students and English language learners. The fact is, it takes time to learn a language, and while my kids are doing that, they may indeed miss reading Ethan Frome.”
He argued that assessing his kids is fine, but expecting the same thing from English language learners and kids who have been speaking English all their lives is ludicrous.
He said that children are not widgets and that teachers, educational leaders and test designers all need to differentiate. “Simply put, there is no true differentiation until and unless assessments are differentiated as well”.
Other considerations include the fact that the Common Core Standards represent a very difficult and time consuming adjustment for both students and teachers. Younger students will be forced to learn at a faster pace and programs will become more rigid.
The Common Core Standards will also present school districts with new budgetary concerns. Most of the Common Core Standards Assessments will be done online, and schools will have to provide additional computers to insure all students are timely assessed. In addition, many textbooks will become obsolete; and schools will have to purchase materials that comply with the new standards.
Additionally, Common Core Standards cover only English language arts and mathematics. Standards and assessments for other subject areas, such as social studies and science, are left up to individual states to determine.