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5th grade math at Canton Central School. NCPR file photo: Sarah Harris
5th grade math at Canton Central School. NCPR file photo: Sarah Harris

Will Common Core recs save schools, or just make everyone mad?

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This story has been updated; read that update here.

In a report issued Monday, a committee within the New York State Board of Regents recommended the state delay some requirements of the federal Common Core standards (read the full report here.)

But some state lawmakers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are still questioning whether the Regents are going far enough to remedy what critics say is a "flawed" rollout of the new standards; and Gov. Cuomo has appointed his own committee to look at the problems.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

The committee is recommending that the effects of the new high stakes testing on students, designed in response to the Common Core, be delayed for five more years.

Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch, in a statement, offered an apology for problems with the rollout: "We've heard the concerns expressed at the hearings and forums, and we regret that the urgency of our work, and the unevenness of implementation,  have caused frustration and anxiety for some of our educators, students, and their families."

High School Seniors were to be required to pass new Regents exams in English and Math that incorporated the new Common Core standards by 2017. Now under the new recommendations, says Education Commissioner John King, passing those tests will not be a requirement for graduation until 2022.

King says if the high stakes tests are used for determining student placements in the lower grades, then the students will not be penalized if they do poorly on the exams.

The Regents would also grade students' test results on a curve; and the Regents also plan to work with local school districts to cut down on "unnecessary" tests.

And the Regents would also develop a different curriculum for students with disabilities, instead of holding them to the same standards as other students.

As for teachers, they'd still be held to the new Common Core standards for their recently designed teacher evaluations. But now if they are fired within the next two school years, they would be allowed to argue that they were unfairly judged by the Common Core standards, and that their school district had not given them the resources to properly prepare.

The teachers unions had sought to delay the impact of the new high-stakes tests on their evaluations for another three years. A spokesman for New York State United Teachers says the proposal "falls short."

Earlier this month, legislative leaders called for a two-year moratorium on all effects of the Common Core, for both students and teachers, and said if Regents did not act, they would.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he and his GOP members need to mull over the Regents' actions before deciding whether to continue to push for a moratorium.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says the Regents have taken steps to address some of the lawmakers, and parents' concerns: "I think today's actions alleviate some of the tensions that parents have had," Silver said. "There may be some things that have to be done statutorily."

Governor Cuomo has taken the step of appointing his own panel to look at how to fix problems with the rollout. Both Senator Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver were allowed to appoint representatives to that panel. Silver says he wants to wait for the recommendations from that panel before deciding what, if any laws need to be passed.

Governor Cuomo, in a statement, reacted harshly to the Regents actions, calling them " too little, too late", and saying the actions are yet another "excuse" to delay the teacher evaluation process.

Cuomo even questioned the Board of Regents' competence, saying "the time has come to seriously reexamine its capacity and performance."

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