by Christine Stuart
Officials, lawmakers, parents, and students expressed mixed feelings Wednesday about whether the state should delay implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Some feel the public uproar over the issue is related to misinformation about the Common Core. The Common Core, according to education officials, is neither a curriculum or an assessment tool.
The Common Core is a set of standards educators must use to develop a curriculum at the local level and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test is what will be used to evaluate students’ performance.
For two years, the results of those tests won’t be tied to teacher evaluations, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the Education Committee on Wednesday.
Sitting behind Pryor, who was the first person to speak at the public hearing, were parents wearing red T-shirts that read, “Stop the Common Core In CT.”
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, told state Education Board Chairman Allan B. Taylor that the reason he believes everyone is suddenly upset about the standards is “the lack of public process.”
He said he keeps hearing there was involvement from the public and teachers, but can’t find any evidence.
“I speak with people at CEA [Connecticut Education Association] who tell me there were no Connecticut teachers who participated in the drafting of the Common Core Standards,” Bolinsky said. “I’m not certain which end of this to believe.”
Taylor said he doesn’t believe there were any Connecticut teachers on the national drafting committee for the standards and he doesn’t believe there was any parental involvement in developing them.
“As the state gave feedback, there was consultation going on between the state Department of Education staff and people outside the department,” Taylor said. “. . .They are very good standards and that’s the bottom line.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, who used a rare parliamentary procedure to get the bill raised for a public hearing, said the anxiety has been heightened and support for the standards has been diminished.
“When your constituents . . . parents, teachers, students have the level of anxiety all of us are hearing about, it is our job to get involved,” Cafero said.
He said that until “we work out the kinks, we should not force this down anyone’s throat.”
If there are actual practical problems out there, then legislative action may need to be taken, he said. But exactly what those practical problems are still wasn’t clear after hours of testimony.
There are some who believe nothing needs to be changed.
A group of superintendents, school board leaders, principals, parents, and business leaders said Wednesday morning that they’re pleased with the Common Core. The group said they don’t know where the opposition to the Common Core State Standards came from, but they believe the state needs to push forward with its implementation.
Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said all the school districts in the state have been preparing for implementation of the standards for the past four years.
Cirasuolo said he doesn’t know where the approximately 1,500 teachers surveyed by the Connecticut Education Association came from because that’s not what he’s hearing from the leaders of school districts.
The survey found that 97 percent believed there should be some sort of moratorium on the implementation of the standards.
“The perception you were presented weeks ago . . . is markedly different from that reality that’s occurring,” Cirasuolo said.
He said a lot of what he’s heard is that there’s a lot of misinformation about the Common Core.
Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said the public outcry against the Common Core is based not upon the validity of the standards themselves, but upon the process of implementation.
The Common Core State Standards were adopted on July 7, 2010, by the state Education Board.
“What’s happening is folks are mixing many different components of education reform and combining it all and injecting a good level of perhaps some level of misinformation to cause confusion,” Villar said.
Bob Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said there’s a lot of misinformation about the teacher evaluation system and how it’s going to work together with the Common Core. In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he was decoupling teacher evaluations from implementation of the Common Core, so the evaluation process wouldn’t be impacted.
“What we’re trying to do is give a little cooling off period so we can implement Common Core,” Rader said. “Then I think you’ll see this all dissipate.”
The Connecticut Education Association supported cautiously moving forward with the Common Core, while the American Federation of Teachers urged rejection of any legislation delaying its implementation.
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