Common Core Panel’s Recommendations
Politico New York is claiming that Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force is ready to make recommendations now that it’s statewide “We’re not listening!” tour has concluded.
In its draft report of recommendations to the governor, the Common Core task force is calling for an overhaul of the state’s testing system, the creation of new state standards and transparency on those standards’ rollout, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO New York.
This is quite short on details. There is no explanation for what an “overhaul of the state’s testing system” means. Generally speaking, I find that my version of an overhaul (throw out all the tests completely) and the state’s version often vary quite a bit from each other. Keep in mind it is entirely possible that they can make the tests considerably easier and even developmentally appropriate, yet they would still have the power to use the cut scores to create whatever narrative they wish to.
As for the creation of new standards, again I am skeptical that this is anything meaningful. New York wouldn’t be the first state to make minor and meaningless alterations to the Common Core and rebrand it as something new and better. That’s exactly what I am anticipating here.
The draft also includes a space for the task force to weigh in on the impact of student test scores on teacher evaluations, and the panel will likely use that space to recommend up to a four-year moratorium, according to a source familiar with the task force’s plans.
This is an important piece of the article. Notice that the task force will simply call for “up to a four-year moratorium” on test based teacher evaluations. That doesn’t mean it will be a four-year moratorium, it just won’t be any more than four years. More importantly, this is essentially a statement by the task force that they support test based evaluations because a moratorium is completely different than getting rid of such evaluations all together. Having a moratorium sides with the notion that it’s not the reform agenda that stinks, it was just the implementation. Be reminded that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that test based teacher evaluations improve student learning at all. Yet the task force is, in essence, voting in favor of them. Junk science will still be junk science in a few (less than four!) years.
Everything that I saw suggested in the article was either suspiciously short on details or not a real fix at all. The task force is doing exactly what it was designed to do: Put a band aid on things to fool people into thinking real changes are being in order to put a halt to the growing opt-out movement.
This strategy is bound to fail for the simple reason that people pay too much attention to it. The deformers were too cocky and aggressive in the early going of these reforms and they awoke the masses in doing so. People are hyper vigilant to all of this now and will continue to be that way going forward in regards to public education. Larger numbers of parents will opt their children out of the state tests until their is a full scale retreat on the reform agenda. Those parents will recognize this is nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues has already had 100% of their students opt-out of the 2016 ELA. Those parents certainly won’t be reversing their decisions based on the band aid solutions the task force is recommending.
The bottom line is that there is far too much money behind the reform agenda and far too many elected officials lining up to do their bidding for these reforms to go quietly into the night. The simplest solution is for the opt-out movement to flex it’s muscle by demonstrating that they can affect sweeping changes at the legislative level in next November’s elections. They can start with the senate Republicans and the “heavy hearts” Democrats in the assembly who voted for the abusive state budget this past spring.
As for our unions, I completely expect the Unity Caucus mouthpieces in the UFT, NYSUT, and the AFT to begin claiming that this is a victory so great it scrapes the skies. After all, as our friend Arthur Goldstein often mentions, they consider everything an incredible victory! Fortunately, you’ll know better.