By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY Seven statewide education groups said Monday that New York should revisit the implementation of its controversial Common Core testing, saying schools and students have struggled under the tougher standardized exams.
The Educational Conference Board, which includes the state School Boards Association and the state's teachers' union, said the standards, implemented last school year, has vexed teachers, students and parents.
The group's leader, John Yagielski, said more attention needs to be made to the effects of the new standards.
"The Common Core learning standards represent the most significant increase in student expectations that New York schools have ever faced," John Yagielski, a retired superintendent in the Albany area, said in a statement. "Therefore, to be effective, these standards must be properly implemented. Working together, the member organizations of ECB have identified actions that need to be taken to make these standards a reality in every classroom."
In August, the state Education Department reported that test scores for students in third through eighth grade plunged in the first year of new, tougher standardized tests.
Thirty-one percent of New York students in elementary and middle schools were proficient in math and reading. That was down from 65 percent in math and 55 percent in English on exams given in 2012.
The state Board of Regents in mid-September agreed to loosen the requirement that districts provide remedial support to all students who struggled on the exams. Schools had warned that because so many kids struggled, they would be hard pressed to widely offer the extra help.
The education group, however, said Monday that the state should implement a statewide campaign to build support for the Common Core program, but also invest more money in professional development and state aid for districts.
They also urged the state to reassess the exams and bolster its review of the program's impact on the classroom.
"We must focus on providing students and teachers with the time, resources and professional support they need to properly implement a deeper and richer curriculum," said Andy Pallotta, executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers union, in a statement.
The state has increased funding for schools by four percent in each of the last two years. But it comes after several years of either flat or reduced funding.
There was no immediate comment from the state Education Department about the groups' request.