Common Core Standards, the curriculum initiative that President Obama put in place to replace No Child Left Behind, has had an uphill battle from critics who see it as worse than its predecessor. Common Core Standards were introduced in 2009, but faced halts, setbacks, delays, and in some cases, whole states have opted out. According to TWC News, New York state’s Common Core is not doing too well, either, despite the state being an “early adopter” of the initiative. Common Core’s opt-out movement is spreading across the country, and it has had a notable effect in New York state.
Many parents throughout New York state are rising up against Common Core and its standardized testing. One parent can’t make sense of the Common Core Standards or the tests that are in their second year of implementation.
“Common Core just seems really confusing and exceptionally tricky. I think they should learn something until mastery, then move on, but that’s not what they do. They spiral, they show the one thing, they move on, then spiral back.”
Common Core backlash in the Empire State has seen 20 percent of students in grades three through eight opt-out of its standardized testing last year. Despite changes to Common Core’s standardized testing from last year, such as long testing periods and not holding teacher evaluations against the tests, the percentage hasn’t changed all that much.
West Genesee School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Brown feels that the Common Core standardized test simply needs more time for students, parents, and teachers to acclimate to it, as he points out the number of opt-outs dropped from 23 percent last year to 19 percent this year. However, not all elements of the testing have been factored in yet, like the mathematics opt-out percentages.
Upstate New York parents are not the only ones taking issue with the Common Core standardized testing, as teachers in New York City, according to NBC New York, have begun to speak out about the tests and are suggesting they opt-out. Defying potential discipline for expressing their opinions on the Common Core standardized tests, many teachers like the fourth and fifth grade teacher at The Earth School in Manhattan, Jia Lee urged New York parents to opt-out.
“Parents should definitely opt out. Refuse. Boycott these tests because change will not happen with compliance.”
A fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 321 in Brooklyn, New York, Lauren Cohen, did not suggest an opt-out of the Common Core tests, but expressed her negative feelings about them.
“I want to tell parents that I’m not going to get anything out of the test. Their kids aren’t getting anything out of the test.”
Though Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, insisted that New York City teachers would only be disciplined if they spoke as representatives of the Department of Education (DOE), many feel the lines are blurred. Third grade teacher Kristin Taylor feels that Common Core tests are “fundamentally harming the education system,” but could not speak “at liberty” on whether New York parents should opt-out for fear of damaging her career.
The superintendent of Brooklyn, New York’s district 15 school stated that teachers have no right to tell parents to opt-out of Common Core standardized testing. According to the New York Post, teachers at New York P.S. 8 sent out emails telling parents they could opt-out of the Common Core tests.
“It’s your right to opt out of the NY State Tests…Alternative educational activities are planned for all students opting out.”
According to Newsday, Long Island, New York, students ran a powerful Common Core testing opt-out movement with tens of thousands of students opting out on the first day of testing.
New York’s public opinion does not seem to be the only thing plaguing the Common Core standardized tests. According to the Washington Post, issues like the lack of proper directions and spaces for work are non-existent, which forced the New York Office of State Assessment to put a notice on their website.
New York teachers were forced to hand out scrap paper because the Common Core standardized tests did not provide the room necessary; but such actions contradict the directions on said test, according to Change the Stakes, a group of parents and teachers that oppose an over-emphasis on standardized testing.
With Common Core already on the books for over 40 states since 2009, and many other states are seeing issues, it puts a question mark on the success and necessity of Common Core.