Public voices Common Core concerns to State Education Commissioner in Jamestown
An educational forum took place at Jamestown High School Wednesday night. Hundreds of teachers and parents from across western New York got their chance to address concerns about Common Core testing standards with New York State Education Commissioner John King.During the heated town hall style meeting attendees were asked not to clap, but to either shake their hands back and forth or nod in order to limit noise.
Parent Andrew Ludwig says unless major changes are made to the standards many parents will refuse to let their children take the exams.
“We know that in order for schools to make yearly progress on NYSED issued school report cards a school must have a 95% participation rate. What will be the specific consequences, financial or otherwise for schools that do not have a 95% participation rate?,” said Ludwig.
Commissioner King says there’s an not option for schools to opt out of state assessments.
“Just as you can’t opt out of biology class, it’s a part of the core academic program. There is a percentage that you can’t fall below in terms of participation and if a school falls below that there are a series of accountability interventions,” said King.
King says adjustments must be made to Common Core, but stands by the fact that it’s the best way to prepare students for college and careers.
Chris Cerroni is another parent who spoke at the forum. He says he believes the new standards place too much emphasis on testing.
“All that matters are the subjects that are tested ELA and Math, everything else gets pushed aside. The arts, history, science, physical education, and creativity are pushed aside just to prepare for tests,” said Cerroni.
King says the amount of testing is up to par with federal standards. He says it’s up to individual districts to decide how much testing to implement additionally.
Lisa Arnone spoke about her daughter with disabilities. She said her daughter worked very hard in school until last year when the Common Core standards were implemented.
“She sat and took state tests for hours. She took state tests where teachers didn’t know what the correct answers were. She asked me if she was dumb. She’s never asked me if she was dumb. This little girl can be very successful in life, but this will defeat her," said Arnone.
King agrees some changes must be made to the Common Core standards for children with disabilities like reducing the testing time.
“One thing that we’re working on is a potential waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education that would allow some students with most significant disabilities to take tests at their instructional level rather than their chronological age,” said King.
King says a similar educational forum is expected to take place in Buffalo before the end of this year.