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Stop the delays: State should fix Common Core, not merely postpone its start

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The on-again, off-again status of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in New York state is getting tiresome.

Earlier this year, the state Board of Regents granted public schools an additional five years to fully implement the standards. While students have already been exposed to some aspects of the initiative, those in the Class of 2022 will be the first who will have to pass tests based on the new standards; the initial group of students selected for this was the Class of 2017.

And now the state Legislature has opted to delay a plan to rely more heavily on Common Core testing results in assessing teacher performance. Just before they adjourned this legislative session last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and members of the Assembly and Senate approved a plan to extend by two years the use of test scores in evaluating teachers rated “ineffective” or “developing.” In other words, teachers with the poorest ratings get a pass for doing substandard work for 2014 and 2015.

If there is a bright spot in all this, the Common Core test results will be used as planned in evaluating teachers rated “effective” or “highly effective.” State officials seem determined to implement the Common Core program by the tiniest increments possible.

“Under current law, student results on state exams account for 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation,” according to a story Friday in the New York Post. “The remaining 80 percent includes a mix of other measures, from non-state tests and a principal’s classroom observations.”

The Post described the legislative cave-in as a major victory for teachers unions. Their members have fought the Common Core State Standards Initiative tooth and nail from the beginning. They have been joined by school district administrators, parents, lawmakers and education authorities who view the program as fundamentally flawed.

If it is such a poor plan, the state must revise it to satisfy those who believe it won’t do much good. Take the necessary time to work out the wrinkles and strengthen those parts that are weak.

Don’t believe, however, that merely postponing its implementation when critics turn up the heat will do any good. If the program won’t work as intended, fix it.

But let’s all remember that what we have now isn’t working all that well. Just as kicking the can down the road won’t serve the best interests of students, maintaining the status quo isn’t going to help them either. Substantial changes in how we education children must be implemented soon so they can compete with each other and the rest of the world.

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