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Common Core continues to cause controversy

CNY community voices its opinion at forum with State Education Commissioner

Cora Gilbert, a student in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District, was the youngest audience member to speak to King. “I don’t like that students have to take tests at the beginning of the year with stuff on them that we know nothing about,” she said. “It’s frustrating and it makes us feel stupid.”

Cora Gilbert, a student in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District, was the youngest audience member to speak to King. “I don’t like that students have to take tests at the beginning of the year with stuff on them that we know nothing about,” she said. “It’s frustrating and it makes us feel stupid.” Allie Wenner

— King went on to give an example of how the state is in the process of eliminating unnecessary testing for eighth graders taking accelerated math, or algebra. Historically, eighth graders taking algebra have had to take both the standard eighth grade math test and the algebra test, but the state has asked the Department of Education for a waiver which would allow those students to only take the algebra test.

Several parents and teachers alike expressed their concerns about the Common Core modules, which King said were developed as an outline for teachers and districts to follow when writing their curriculum. Audience members criticized both the "cookie-cutter" approach to this new way of learning and the fact that teachers have not been given enough time to fully learn and understand the modules before teaching the concepts to their students.

“We are bombarded on a daily basis with the idea that the Common Core fosters critical thought,” said Heidi Teska, a parent in the Syracuse City School District. “But how can we teach critical thought when our teachers are being hamstrung by accelerated pacing, scripted modules and modules that are riddled with errors and inaccuracies in a one-size-fits-all approach?”

“Is it fair to districts who have adopted math modules to not have them in full at the beginning of the year?” said Jesse Goodglass, who teaches at Percy Hughes School in the Syracuse City School District. “Teachers aren’t able to see the full curriculum map at the beginning… in many cases, teachers get the modules just days before they’re to be implemented… is it fair for teachers to be evaluated on implementation of modules when they get them a few days [before they’re to be taught?]”

King was insistent in stressing that the modules are meant to be a guideline, not curriculum.

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