State Education Commissioner addresses Common Core concerns

Posted at: 08/28/2013 11:17 PM
By: Lynette Adams |

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Months after New York State launched the Common Core way of teaching and changed the way it evaluates the performance of students and teachers, there is still a lot of frustration surrounding it.

New York State's Education Commissioner John King spent the day in Rochester Wednesday. He talked with teachers about the Common Core State Standards. But some teachers, parents and students wanted to express their frustration in a demonstration Wednesday.

News10NBC took the questions and concerns of some of the demonstrators to the Commissioner.

Teachers and parents like Melissa Barber want the Commissioner to see the other side.

Barber is a sixth-grade teacher in the Rochester City School District. She is also a parent. Barber was among a group of parents, teachers and children taking part in a demonstration Wednesday afternoon outside the School of the Arts. It was all about sending a message to the Commissioner.

“I think the way tests are done should be reformed,” said Barber.

She says the new testing is frustrating, particularly for teachers.

“Come in my classroom. I have an open door. Come in my room everyday. Look at me teaching. Look at what I'm teaching. That is the true form of a teacher observation, not taking an exam and saying well, three-fourths of your students aren't on grade level because they didn't get a 3 on the exam,” said Barber.

“How do you respond to what this teacher is saying?” asked News10NBC's Lynette Adams.

“In many ways what's she describing is exactly the evaluation system New York State has adopted into law as a part of the Race to the Top effort,” said Commissioner King.

King says what the teacher is suggesting is very similar to what is happening.

“A multiple measures evaluation system, the majority of which, sixty-percent of which is based on measures like the principal's observation of the teacher's practice in the classroom," said King.

He says only a small percentage of the teacher's evaluation is based on the student's performance.

“Twenty-percent of their evaluation is based on how their students grew on the state exams, not their absolute performance,” said King.

King says it's the same for student. State assessments, their grades, the courses they're taking all play a part in their assessments. King says scores were low this year as expected. But he says that will change in time.

“I do expect to see progress over time. There's no magic bullets. In Massachusetts they saw incremental change and I think that's what we'll see here,” said King.  

King says the beauty of Common Core is students all over New York State have an equal opportunity for the same quality of education, regardless of their school district. He also says it will not only raise those standards, but help students to become college and career ready when they graduate.
Besides addressing the Common Core State Standards, the commissioner had another reason for coming to Rochester.

King announced Governor Cuomo approved a new educational program, called P-Tech. It stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program. Students would spend two extra years in high school and graduate with a diploma, an associates degree and a promise of being first in line for jobs at a particular company. Rochester os one of 16 sites chosen for this program. It was announced Wegmans will be the corporate partner and it will launch at Edison Tech High School. You can expect to hear a lot more about this program in the coming school year.

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