New York's top educator discusses Common Core with lawmakers

Oct 3, 2013

State senators questioned New York’s top educator and other education professionals Tuesday at a hearing in Syracuse looking at new Common Core assessments and student achievement.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, suggested some questions from the Common Core exam be removed, like ones that require students to draw shapes to represent numbers.

The Common Core exams implemented last school year aim to grade student’s critical thinking over memorization, but proficiency grades dropped way off and the tests have received criticism.

Education Commissioner John King told the lawmakers anxiety is to be expected with new tests.

"I think it’s important to emphasize that these assessment results this spring set a new baseline match to college and career readiness," he said.

"In many ways, they tell us something we already knew at the upper grades," he added, noting that while three-quarters of students graduate high school, only half of them are considered ready for college.

The Common Core sets a new benchmark, King said.

"Change is always hard," he said.

While the state's Parent Teacher Association supports Common Core, executive director Rick Longhurst said the negative way the tests are viewed could jeopardize their success.

"It represents a change in the way that we instruct our children," he said. "And that change needs to be understood by our parents, by our schools, by our communities."

Longhurst told the committee he would give state education a middle grade. He said they get high marks for technical work, but lower grades for communicating with parents and the community.

The first Common Core exams looked at English and math, but the number of subjects will increase in the next few years.