Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, December 11, 2015

Not Much Real Change To The Standards In Those Cuomo Common Core Task Force Recommendations

The union leaders are shouting "Hosanna!" over the recommendations that Cuomo's Common Core Review Task Force released yesterday, but I'm less impressed by the whole thing.

Here's how Kate Taylor of the NY Times wrote this up:

A task force Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created is calling for changes in what New York State students learn and how they are assessed, in a set of recommendations released on Thursday.

The task force, which Mr. Cuomo convened in response to the concerns of parents and teachers, is also calling for the state not to use its test scores to evaluate teachers through the 2018-19 school year, to allow time to develop the new standards and tests.

The report is the latest step in the state’s retreat from the Common Core school standards, national benchmarks that New York adopted in 2010, and especially from using student test scores in teacher evaluations. It comes in the wake of a rebellion by parents against testing; one-fifth of students did not sit for the state exams this year, a fourfold increase from the previous year.

But is it a "retreat"?

It is unclear how different the new standards will be from the Common Core. The task force’s report calls for enlisting educators and parents to help create them, and it recommends modifying the standards for kindergarten, first grade and second grade so that they are more age-appropriate. But it says little about the standards in the upper grades, in which students take state tests, and it says that, generally, the new standards should “maintain the key instructional shifts set forth in the Common Core.”

Gee, that doesn't sound like real change to me?

That sounds like the Common Core State Standards will get some minor tweaks and stay in place.

Sounded that way to one of the Common Core shills too:

“The report makes clear that the current standards and assessments will stay in place,” said Stephen Sigmund, the executive director of High Achievement New York, a coalition of groups that promote the standards.

So long as the math and ELA Regents exams stay as they are, there will be no practical change from what's being taught in schools.

Since the Regents tests are Common Core-aligned and schools are being held accountable for the results (and can be put into state receivership if they're really low), you can bet that not much will shift in math and ELA classes in high schools when it comes to teaching the Common Core standards.

In short, the Endless Testing regime and Endless Test Prep tied to Common Core will remain alive and well so long as what gets tested is Common Core- or Common Core-Lite.

The same will be true for the tested grades in elementary and middle schools if the tests remain Common Core-aligned and are used to rate schools.

I'm also told that the "local" assessment scores will remain as part of APPR, which, if true, means "junk science" VAM is alive and well in teacher evaluations, even before the "moratorium" that the task force called for having on using state test scores in APPR expires and junk science VAM using state test scores returns to APPR.

So, what real change did we really get yesterday in these recommendation?

The UFT and NYSUT can declare victory all they want with these recommendations.

What I see here is one big PR event made to look like a lot more is going to go on then really will go on.


  1. Obviously a PR event, as RBE correctly indicates.

    A PR event with a real purpose beyond simply keeping the "juicy center" aspects of the reform agenda alive in NYS however.

    The purpose of this PR event is to REDUCE OPT OUT NUMBERS SO THAT THE ONLY MAJOR ROADBLOCK TO THE REFORM AGENDA IS REMOVED (PARENTS). Note that teachers and their unions are not even registering as part of any roadblock.

    Now, alot of people understand this but don't see it as they should, in detail. This PR event is not about going after the entire opt out movement in general. No. Its not about reducing opt out to zero or even close to it. Its about stopping the growth of opt out AT THE MARGINS, where numbers are likely to grow. The goal here, for Cuomo and the reform-minded state establishment is to simply CONTROL THE OPT OUT NUMBERS.

    Lets not forget, its a victory for THEM if opt out numbers remain the same or are only increased slightly. They will claim that they have stopped the bleeding and that the rest of the medicine can now be applied.

    That all the union voices are declaring victory, insofar as their voices even matter and resonate anymore, is a sign of their absolute and total lack of understanding even the most basic things about the reform movement, the politics surrounding it, or labor organizing and history.

    But yeah, anyway, its about limiting the growth of opt out, not killing opt out. Big difference.


    The unions declaring victory here, unlike their usual victory declarations which are meaningless, actually HURTS OUR MOVEMENT AGAINST THE REFORM AGENDA because it is another brick in the wall confusing marginal parents on opt out. BAAAAAAAD BAD BAD.

    I am not one of these opt out evangelists who see HUGE opt out numbers no matter what come spring. I don't see new opt out territories forming. The only growth is at the margins of the places where opt out is already strong. And its right there that Cuomo etc are focused with this PR theater and that the union is harming by declaring victory.

    The worst is yet to come...