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NYSED Commissioner says Common Core testing is under review

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

New State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia reassured some local parents that a full review on Common Core tests is underway.

Elia made her remarks during at stop at Sweet Home High School in Amherst Wednesday morning. 

A small group of parents complained that students get very upset, some even "breaking down and crying" when taking the standardized tests. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia talks parents in the Sweet Home District.

"We are reviewing the length of the exam, that is one thing," responded Elia. "Secondly, I'm not sure parents understand that if teachers have data on how well their third grader did, that it can help them to be able to improve on how they teach."

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia talks with Sweet Home High School teachers.

Elia said they are reviewing content and length of the exams. 

"In the context of the assessments, we are reviewing assessments. We've got a new company coming in and we are addressing all the issues that I think are important," stated Elia. 

Elia has been reaching out to teachers for input standardized testing and teacher evaluations. But Elia also told parents and teachers the state must keep up standards for students.

"We've got to raise the standards," said Elia as she spoke with Sweet Home High School teachers. Elia noted that too many public high school students graduate and need to take remediation before their college program. 

"Teachers have to shift everything they are doing in their classrooms. Kids have to shift they way they approach an assessment and they have to think about it differently," noted Elia. 

Elia encouraged teachers to continue to provide feedback for her focus groups. "We have to invest in our teachers," she said.

"At least we are being given the opportunity to have a conversation with her and get some feedback," said Sarah English, Chemistry Teacher at Sweet Home High. 

English was thrilled to be able to participate in a conversation with the state's top education leader. "For me, it's also very comforting to hear that she's still willing to work with the teachers in this state who want to be involved in item writing and helping out with the regents exams or looking to adjust how the Common Core is being written," said English.

The State Education Commissioner is a former Sweet Home teacher who served in the District in the 1970s and 80s. This is her second visit to Sweet Home Central School District after visiting with teachers and parents in July.

Elia began her day greeting students at Glendale Elementary School in Tonawanda before heading to Sweet Home. She also made stops in the Niagara Falls City School District and on Tuesday Elia greeted students at Burgard Vocational High School in Buffalo.