Assembly moving toward delaying parts of Common Core

Teachers in Long Island classrooms, such as this Teachers in Long Island classrooms, such as this one in a May 1, 2013 photo, are evaluated by a system using student test scores, classroom observations and factors such as contacts with parents. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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ALBANY -- The Assembly defied Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday by passing a bill to delay teacher evaluations and other elements of the new Common Core curriculum for two years.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 117-10, still faced uncertain support in the Senate and strong opposition by Cuomo, who would have to sign it.

Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Wednesday that the issue won't even be considered until after the April 1 budget deadline.

The bill is in response to outrage by many parents and teachers statewide over the implementation of higher academic standards under the national Common Core. The higher standards were created to help U.S. students better compete with counterparts in other countries. But it has stressed out students and teachers who felt they were not adequately prepared for it.

"The Titanic had a better rollout than the Common Core," said Assemb. Steven McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke).

The bill wouldn't stop Common Core in New York, but would seek to counter much of the stress that has accompanied its implementation. The testing would continue, but wouldn't be used to determine whether a student passes to another grade and wouldn't be used as a major factor in evaluating teachers' and principals' work.

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"It will be a bit of a work in progress, but I do believe we will take some of the stress off children," said Assembly Education Committee chairwoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) in a lengthy floor debate. She also noted there was "tremendous pushback" from teachers.

The Assembly crafted the bill after the state Board of Regents backed off its own call for a two-year delay after Cuomo lashed out at any stall in teacher evaluations. He supports changes to Common Core's implementation but isn't budging on the need to subject teachers and principals to evaluations without delay.

"While the state's new Common Core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature," Cuomo tells viewers in a new statewide TV ad. "It creates anxiety, and it's just unfair. And their [children's] scores should not be counted against them."

The bill concerns standardized tests in math and English in grades 3-8. It also would require more versions of the test to be developed. That would better inform instruction, Nolan said.

The bill also would better protect student data, including test scores collected by the state Education Department, from being released beyond parents and their schools.

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