The state Education Department released a two-minute video Thursday instructing parents that upcoming new state tests for third through eighth graders will likely yield lower scores but that toughening standards would better prepare New York students for college and careers.
The math and language arts tests, which will be administered in the coming weeks, are based on a new, more difficult curriculum, called the Common Core. Teachers have described the former curriculum as “a mile wide, but an inch deep,” and educators argue the new standards will lead to a deeper understanding of key concepts that build from one grade to the next.
New York State United Teachers, a statewide union, has launched an advertising campaign denouncing the tests, claiming that teachers and students have not had enough time to prepare for the exams. Not only will the tests be part of teachers’ and principals’ performance evaluations this year, but the results might also be used for determining whether students should advance to the next grade or be placed in gifted programs or special ed classes.
In the video, Education Commissioner John King makes a pitch to parents: We can’t wait any longer.
“As we looked at flat test scores in New York and across the country, it was impossible to ignore a few sobering facts. Year after year, our students living in poverty and English-language learners are not achieving at the same level as their peers. We’re not faring as well as we should be in the new global marketplace. Too many of our graduates aren’t prepared to succeed in college or their careers.
“The Common Core state standards are the answer to this problem.
“The standards are higher. The standards are fewer. And the standards are deeper. They focus on the developing the kind of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills students need for success in the 21st century.
“The students have waited too long already.”
A series of other videos are available on the state’s Engage NY website. See the most recent video here: