Assembly passes Common Core change

The controversial introduction of the Common Core Learning Standards to New York public schools is now being addressed at the legislative level.

Following more than four hours of debate Wednesday evening, the New York State Assembly has passed a bill calling for a delay to the implementation of portions of the Common Core.

In its current form, the bill would prevent schools from using Common Core-based test scores on staff evaluations for two years, and prevents schools from using scores to decide whether a student will advance to the next grade level. The bill passed 117 to 10 Wednesday evening and was sent to the Senate, where it has no sponsor and its prospects are uncertain.

The bill – sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan – is not expected to pass through the Senate as it stands, despite the fact that a proposal from the Assembly’s Republican minority to amend the bill to include more changes was defeated. According to Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, the Republican proposal made additional recommendations to those contained in the approved Democratic bill.

“The Assembly minority’s education committee … put together a comprehensive proposal to transfer power away from the state Education Department and back to school districts,” Goodell said. “(In doing so), schools can implement the Common Core in a thoughtful manner, and it would allow them the option to either continue using Common Core testing or go back to the old form of testing that they’ve used for decades.”

The minority proposal also pushed for a delay in implementing the Common Core until the 2016-17 school year while establishing a panel that would decide whether to continue with the standards at all. However, Democrats raised concerns about whether such a proposal would jeopardize the state’s share of the federal Race to the Top grants.

Goodell said he has been a staunch proponent of a comprehensive bipartisan bill, but that was not to be the case when the minority’s amendment proposal was defeated by the majority.

“The majority have voted to reject a comprehensive approach and deal with their own bill,” he said. “They proposed a much more narrow bill that simply suspended (state assessments) for use in teacher evaluations, reduced the impact of tests on student performance and addressed a lot of the privacy issues that have been of great concern for everyone on both sides of the aisle.”

Although the minority proposal was defeated, Goodell said the approved bill in its current form is not a bad one. However, it only addresses the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Common Core reform, he said.

“I voted in favor of the bill that was passed,” he said. “In my opinion, it is taking very timid, baby steps; but it is a step in the right direction.”