What’s in name? Common Core is ‘rebranded’

COURTESY PHOTO

COURTESY PHOTO

Since its inception in 2010, the Common Core Standards Initiative has met with scrutiny and often disdain from parents and educators across the country.

The system of standardized tests and its connection to teacher evaluation has been labeled such a failure by some that the headline of a December 2015 New York Daily News article on changes to the program dubbed it “Common Corpse.”

In New York State, the latest alteration has eliminated the name Common Core from the state education department’s vocabulary. From now on, the program will be known as “Next Generation Learning Standards.”

In 2016, 46 percent of Shelter Island Island students opted out of the English language arts tests as compared with 39.3 percent this year. Numbers opting out of the mathematics test also declined from 42.3 percent last year to 38.7 percent this year.

Why did the numbers change this year? Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik said he doesn’t know. What he’s certain about, he told the Reporter this week, is that “my teachers know better than the state what our kids need. We concentrate on our kids learning” and the result is improved test scores.

“Do I wish it were gone? Sure,” he said about the standardized testing. “But I’m not focused on that. It’s called good teaching and everything will be fine.”

Mr. Skuggevik’s glad that teacher evaluations aren’t tied into the system, but expects that will be temporary and when it reappears, it will require resistance, Mr. Skuggevik said.

He had high praise for one state official, Dr. Betty Rosa, who is now the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents.

“She listens and she’s moving in the right direction,” he said.

One change, that tests are shorter and students are given more time to complete them, is important, Mr. Skuggevik said. Beginning in the fall of 2015, after an extended period of public feedback, the standardized exams were shortened and a four-year moratorium was placed on using student test scores as a component of teacher evaluations.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) told Times Review recently that legislators have given up on the idea that the tests have “any use” in evaluating teacher performance.

“The fact is that people would like to see, not just that it’s pushed off, but that that component is eliminated entirely,” the senator said.

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