Expert Opinion: Higher learning standards are essential

Expert Opinion: Higher learning standards are essential

Expert Opinion: Higher learning standards are essential
October 1, 2015

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a task force to review Common Core implementation presents a significant opportunity to improve how the standards work for our teachers and children. This group, which includes members of the High Achievement New York coalition, will have the chance to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the standards and their implementation in an environment devoid of the political rhetoric that has too often poisoned the public discourse and clouded the conversation.

As a parent leader, I’m optimistic that continued improvements to the implementation of standards will build confidence in them among more New Yorkers. Whatever implementation improvements are made, however, New York must keep higher learning standards and the assessments aligned to those standards. Higher standards are essential for ensuring that all of our children, no matter where they come from, have an equal chance at success in the future.

As this work begins, it is also critical to remember that New York has already made significant and impactful improvements; we’ve capped state testing at 1 percent of in-school time, released more test questions than any other state, and committed to computerized testing.

In a letter HANY recently sent to the governor’s office, we outlined successful strategies from other states that we hope can serve as examples for the task force’s work, including:

  • Renaming the standards: Several states have dropped the “Common Core” moniker to put their own stamp on the standards.
  • Public comment and review of individual standards: Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee collected comments on individual standards, meaning feedback was tightly focused on the actual education standards and improving their implementation.

However, some of the loudest critics driven by self-interested political motivations will not be satisfied unless the standards are eliminated – an outcome that is simply unacceptable.

Going backwards on higher learning standards would mean returning to a system that let thousands of students, especially lower-income and minority children, fall through the cracks. That is not a solution.

What the task force is focused on is improving the standards so that more children graduate ready for college and 21st-century careers – and that’s a goal we can all get behind.

Kim Namkoong is Co-President of Parents for Excellence, Bethlehem, and a member of the High Achievement New York Coalition.