Common Core Implementation Panel Releases Preliminary Recommendations

The Common Core Implementation Panel, formed in early February by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today unveiled a series of recommendations to immediately improve the implementation of Common Core in New York State.

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Albany, NY - March 10, 2014 - The Common Core Implementation Panel, formed in early February by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today unveiled a series of recommendations to immediately improve the implementation of Common Core in New York State.

The Common Core Implementation Panel recommends moving forward with a commitment to the Common Core coupled with immediate course corrections and sustained support designed to better serve students and parents and ensure the successful implementation of the Common Core standards.

The recommendations include protections for students, measures to provide better support for parents and teachers, improve the public's trust in Common Core implementation, and additional reforms to protect data privacy. The full report is available here.

"The flawed implementation of the Common Core curriculum has resulted in frustration, anxiety, and confusion for children and parents," Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. "It is in everyone's best interest to have high, real world standards for learning and to support the Common Core curriculum, but we need to make sure that our students are not unfairly harmed by its implementation. The recommendations released by the Common Core Implementation Panel today seek to achieve this goal. These recommendations would ensure that State Common Core test results in grades 3-8 will not appear on students' permanent records, reduce over-testing, and halt the State Education Department's data initiative with inBloom. The panel does not make any recommendation to halt or slow teacher evaluations. I will review these recommendations with the Senate and the Assembly."

Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs & President, IBM International Foundation, and Chair of the Common Core Implementation Panel, said, “The introduction of the Common Core education standards can help provide new opportunities for our students and bring America's public schools into the 21st Century. I applaud Governor Cuomo for forming this diverse panel and for his commitment to providing the needed improvements in their implementation. These recommendations will help New York in the successful implementation of a set of education standards that will work for our students, parents, teachers and employers, offering all children access to a quality education and making New York competitive.”

Senator John J. Flanagan said, "It is abundantly clear from the many public hearings and forums that have been held that Common Core implementation needs to be fixed. This panel has put together a number of recommendations that will guide an overhaul of how the standards are implemented and reform the system in a way that benefits students, parents, educators, and the public. We need rigorous standards to ensure that our students are being taught at a level where they can compete and succeed in the 21st century economy. The new learning standards in New York are laudable ones, but it is critically important that any issues and concerns related to their implementation are quickly addressed and in a meaningful manner, and I believe the recommendations we issued today help to accomplish that goal. I am proud to be serving on the Governor’s Commission and look forward to continuing to work with the other members to ensure that we build on this very good start to accomplish the work that must be done."

Assembly Member Cathy Nolan said, "Last week the Assembly passed comprehensive legislation (A.8929) to address many of the issues with the State’s rollout of the new Common Core standards. I am pleased the Panel has incorporated many of the elements of the Assembly’s legislation, including halting the state’s relationship with InBloom and recommending more data protection and security requirements to ensure student privacy. I continue to be concerned about unresolved issues associated with high stakes testing and its impact on teachers and principals, and look forward to working with the Panel to address these concerns. My thanks to Speaker Silver and Governor Cuomo for their leadership on this issue."

Ali Jackson-Jolley, a parent from Westchester County and a member of the Panel, said, “Every parent wants their child to receive the best education possible, including high standards and rigorous classes. The Common Core can help us achieve this goal, but its implementation has led to anxiety and frustration by parents and students. It is time to take a new approach to the Common Core. I am pleased to serve on this panel formed by Governor Cuomo and believe these recommendations will outline a path forward to making important reforms to how Common Core is implemented in New York.”

Nick Lawrence, an 8th Grade Social Studies Lead Teacher for Social Studies at the East Bronx Academy for the Future, and member of the Panel, said, "As a teacher, I support strong, smart standards for our students. It is necessary for our education system to prepare our children in New York to be competitive nationally as well as with their peers internationally. Based on experiences in my classroom and school as well as in speaking with colleagues across New York City and State, I'm convinced that the Common Core can and should be that set of standards. In spite of my confidence in the Common Core as a starting point for an important conversation for what we expect of our students, the implementation has created confusion in many classrooms and in homes across New York State. Today we are putting forward several recommendations that parents and educators can stand behind right away to start reforming the way Common Core is put in place here in New York. I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this work with stakeholders in our education system from across the state and thank Governor Cuomo for putting together this Implementation Panel to contribute more directly to the conversation about how the Common Core can be done the right way."

Since Common Core was first instituted in New York, concerns have been raised by parents, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders regarding the program’s implementation. A summary of the Panel’s recommendations:

Protect Students from Inappropriate High-Stakes Testing:

  • Ban standardized “bubble tests” for young children: To protect young children from anxiety and developmentally inappropriate testing, the Panel recommends prohibiting the use of standardized “bubble tests” for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
  • Protect students from high stakes based on unfair test results: Before Common Core State testing begins in April, the Panel recommends: Ensuring that the results of English and math Common Core testing for grades 3-8 are not used against students and will not appear on their permanent records; phasing in higher pass scores for the Regents exams and ensuring teachers have course materials before high school students are tested on the new standards; and ending certain testing for students with disabilities and English Language Learners while still ensuring accountability for the performance of these students.
  • Use instructional time for teaching and learning – not over-testing: To help determine which assessments are truly necessary and beneficial, and reduce the testing burden wherever possible, the Panel recommends capping the amount of time that can be used for standardized tests and for test prep; improving transparency about what standardized tests students are required to take, and why; and implementing measures for school districts to more easily eliminate unnecessary standardized testing.

Provide Better Support for Parents and Teachers

  • Treat parents as essential partners in Common Core implementation: To help parents understand and participate in the Common Core implementation process, the Panel recommends creating state-of-the-art online resources and toolkits that are linguistically and culturally appropriate to show parents what the Common Core is, what to expect, and how to help their children. In addition to a large-scale online effort, the Panel recommends including local community events and the dissemination of accessible and practical material through schools, non-profit organizations, libraries and other partners.
  • Ensure that teachers receive the training and support they need and deserve: To better engage teachers in the Common Core process, the Panel recommends providing high-quality local professional development opportunities for teachers. Schools that are successfully implementing the Common Core in each region should be identified and recruited to serve as models where other local teachers and principals can be invited to see instructional changes in action.
  • Give educators access to quality Common Core curriculum resources as quickly as possible: The Panel recommends the State Education Department quickly complete the unfinished Common Core curriculum modules and continuously improve all of the modules through the involvement of teachers and other educators and experts. In addition, the Panel recommends significantly increasing the number of assessment questions released following the Common Core tests so that teachers, parents and the public can see how students are tested. Teachers should also be given timely and useful information about student assessment results.

Improve public trust in Common Core implementation

  • Ensure ongoing parental and citizen participation and input into Common Core implementation: To build trust and confidence, and provide networks of New Yorkers who can assist educators and government leaders in the implementation of the Common Core, the Panel recommends the appointment of an independent public task force that includes parents, educators, legislators, and business, civic and community leaders to provide ongoing review of Common Core implementation across the state and make public recommendations as needed to replicate successes and address the need for further implementation modifications.

Protect student privacy

  • Establish strict data protection and security requirements, while ensuring that appropriate educational and operational data-sharing can occur: The Panel recommends enacting laws and policies that establish and/or reinforce strict data protection requirements, including procedures for parent notification in case of any data breach, including by a third-party, and strong penalties for violations; establishment of a “Parents Bill of Rights for Data Privacy” that includes complete transparency about what data is collected by the State and by school districts, who it is shared with and why; and naming of a Chief Privacy Officer for the State Education Department whose responsibilities include establishing standards for educational agency data security and privacy policies. The Panel does not support a “parent opt-out” of the use of data, which could place essential academic and operational functions in jeopardy. The Panel understands and respects parents’ fears about the privacy of their children’s data, and recognizes concerns about collecting unnecessary or intrusive data.
  • Halt the State’s relationship with inBloom: The debate about this one provider has become a distraction to the successful implementation of the Common Core. The Panel recommends that the State halt its relationship with inBloom and consider alternative paths to accomplish the goals of increased data transparency and analytics.

The members of the Common Core Implementation Panel include:

  • Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs & President, IBM International Foundation (Chair)
  • Senator John Flanagan, Senate Education Committee Chair (Senate appointee)
  • Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Assembly Education Committee Chair (Assembly appointee)
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education
  • Todd Hathaway, Teacher, East Aurora High School (Erie County)
  • Alice Jackson-Jolley, Parent (Westchester County)
  • Anne Kress, President, Monroe Community College
  • Nick Lawrence, Teacher, East Bronx Academy for the Future (NYC)
  • Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President of Programs, National Council of La Raza
  • Charles Russo, Superintendent, East Moriches UFSD (Long Island)
  • Dan Weisberg, EVP & General Counsel, The New Teacher Project