Assembly speaker: Common Core should be delayed

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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The state's controversial rollout of school curricula tied to the Common Core academic standards should be delayed and its implementation re-evaluated, the leader of the State Assembly said Tuesday.

"I think the case has been made, if nothing else, for a delay and a re-evaluation of the implementation of Common Core," Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said in Albany. "The problem with it is . . . number one, it was suddenly put upon teachers and students and administrators and schools. The support for it was not forthcoming as quickly as the rigors of Common Core, and the training wasn't there for a lot of the teachers that are charged with using it as the basis for their education."

Silver's remarks came as Suffolk County educators, underscoring their earlier push for the state to reconsider testing and implementation of the more rigorous curricula, sent letters of support from 60 school districts and other Long Island stakeholders to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Board of Regents and Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.

Western Suffolk BOCES and the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association sent detailed suggestions to the state in November, aimed at correcting what they said are flaws in the Common Core and teacher evaluation initiatives. The letters asked the state to slow implementation of exams tied to the new academic standards, using this year and next as transition years.

Roberta Gerold, president of the Suffolk superintendents association, said Tuesday that King's response to the original request failed to address their concerns. She expressed hope that the second set of letters -- from Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES and 60 Suffolk County school districts, signed and endorsed by superintendents, presidents of boards of education, parent teacher organizations, and teacher and principal associations -- makes more of an impact.

The package also was sent to more than a dozen members of the legislature.

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"The only action the superintendents want is for the state to stop and think about how we can put this process in place better and to be part of that conversation," Gerold said.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has appointed a committee of six regents to review the Common Core implementation process and report back.

That group's initial meeting is scheduled for Wednesday by teleconference, said Regent Roger Tilles of Great Neck. He is the Island's representative on the board and is on the committee.

"As one who's confident the Common Core standards can do well, I'm just afraid that, if we don't get this right, we could lose the baby along with the bath water," Tilles said.

The Suffolk group, in its latest missive, asked that a representative from the county and the superintendents association be included in any decisions to help resolve issues surrounding the rocky implementation, said Michael Mensch, chief operating officer of Western Suffolk BOCES, who co-authored the letters with Gerold.

Jonathan Burman, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the commissioner wrote a response to the superintendents association's first letter. In it, King maintained his commitment to the Common Core and said the state is working to ensure adequate funding, increased understanding of the curriculum and more training for teachers.

Burman said Tuesday that "late last year, the NYS Educational Conference Board, comprised of the state's largest and most influential education organizations -- including the statewide group that represents all school superintendents -- released a report reaffirming their strong commitment to the Common Core."

But Mensch said that time for changing course is running out. The group also has asked for a three-year moratorium on tying staffers' evaluations to student test scores.

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"Critical and time-sensitive decisions need to be made before next spring's administration of grade 3-8 testing in order to avoid yet another round of flawed student assessments, as well as teacher and principal evaluations," read the group's Jan. 3 letter.

With John Hildebrand

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