Newsday: New York Parents Must Have Students Take Assessments

New York State Education Building in Albany, NY
Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Newsday, a newspaper and news site in New York State, declared the war over various education reforms over in an editorial this week.

They wrote:

The war over Common Core standards that had gotten so heated it spawned a statewide political party actually ended fairly well by 2017. As students, teachers and parents got used to the new curricula and learning methods that had initially been enacted too fast and with too little training, the state replaced the name Common Core with “Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards.” It also allowed public comment on the standards, tweaking them but leaving them largely intact.

The fight to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations, though, is now dead. State law says the scores have to be part of the evaluations, but there is a moratorium on enforcing that rule which will almost certainly be extended until the law connecting student scores to teacher evaluations is repealed.

And any forceful attempt to make school districts push kids to sit for those tests appears to be dead, too. The state Board of Regents this week retreated on its plan to divert a portion of schools’ federal funds toward encouraging test participation at high opt-out schools, and to make those schools craft plans to reduce those rates.

Regarding the war over Common Core, unfortunately, I think too many, including members of the media, have bought into the rebrand. And that is what it is, a rebrand. Those who speak out against the standards will have to point out the specific problems within New York’s academic standards such as the standards of mathematical practice remain the same, and New York’s ELA standards still have an undue emphasis on informational text.

As for the other changes they mention, those are positive developments, and I hope they stay in place. That said, how Newsday finished the editorial irked me.

It’s good news that the state has managed to keep a set of rigorous standards to ensure students are ready for work or college when they graduate high school. But the unions and Regents who claim teachers can be properly and rigorously evaluated without tests scores must craft a plan to do so. And parents and teachers, having won the battle to decouple standardized tests and teacher evaluations, must have the kids take the tests. 

They buy into the same talking points that education reformers have foisted. No, New York’s standards are not rigorous. No, they will not ensure students are ready for work or college. That is propaganda. New York’s tweaked standards and Common Core does not have any data that backs up those claims.

Then the statement that parents “must have kids take the tests.” Must? No, the point is that parents, not the state, not the school district, and indeed not the editorial board of Newsday, decides what is best for their student. 

What hubris.