Common Core Critics Pan Cuomo Panel Report

Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core Implementation Panel released their preliminary recommendations this week after having met twice to discuss the flawed roll out of the education initiative, but critics remain unsatisfied.

The panel’s recommendations were broken down into what the panel believed to be the four most urgent areas: testing, data privacy, parent trust and support and teacher training. It recommended against standardized testing for grades pre-k to 2 that was due to roll out next year, in order to “protect young children from anxiety and to promote research-based educational practices.” Critics say it still doesn’t address the problems.

“So far, students in Grade 3-8 still take the exams, but results will be banned from [their] permanent record, but still used by state for 20 percent of teacher evaluation,” Michael Mensch, chief operating officer of Western Suffolk BOCES, said in an email. “This completely defies any credible explanation or defense. If the exam is so flawed how can you use it to measure a teacher’s effectiveness?”

Cuomo, The New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents have all come under fire for the flawed implementation of Common Core. The governor empaneled a group of education experts to review the implementation, offer recommendations that address the criticism and save the education reform initiative in response to protestors swarming legislative offices and thousands of parents vowing to “opt-out” their children.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to have high, real world standards for learning and to support the Common Core curriculum, but we need to make sure that our students are not unfairly harmed by its implementation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

schoolThe Common Core Implementation Panel’s findings also come on the heels of the governor’s media campaign that includes a commercial calling the testing “unfair.” But, some Long Islanders are far from pacified, calling the panel “a sham” and the recommendations “more smoke and mirrors.” A teacher on Cuomo’s panel publicly dissented from the findings, calling them “incomplete.”

The panel recommends that children who are subjected to the tests should be protected from the “high stakes” that accompanied the results last year, stating that their scores should not appear on their permanent records and should not be used against them.

This recommendation appears to call into question the validity of the tests, critics say. If the panel believes them to be so flawed that they induce anxiety and should not be used to judge student’s performance, then why introduce them to students next month, as Suffolk County superintendents wrote to Cuomo last week.

Protestors have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the data mining of their children’s personal information, prompting the panel to recommend a cease in their relationship with inBloom, the nonprofit data company that stores student information online.

“The ending data mining part is great,” said Oceanside teacher Marla Kilfoyle, “if they follow through with it.”

The panel also reported that it “does not support a ‘parent opt-out’ of the use of data, which could place essential academic and operational functions in jeopardy.” The opt-out issue had been the subject of recently proposed legislation that has since been voted down in the state Assembly.

The recommended changes seem tepid as Common Core continues full steam ahead. Although the governor and legislature have become critics of the roll out, the three incumbents Board of Regents were re-elected this week, calling into question just how serious those calling for change in New York education really are.