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Bill seeks 2-year moratorium on using Common Core tests for stakes

New York Teacher

Amid a statewide furor over the flawed implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards, the State Assembly on Feb. 28 introduced a bill that would impose a two-year moratorium on attaching high-stakes consequences to the New York State tests for teachers and students.

Senate Republicans were expected to either support the bill or introduce a similar one, as the New York Teacher went to press.

“It’s clear from the results of the state tests that the Common Core rollout across New York has been a disaster. Legislators have heard from their constituents that we have to call a halt to high-stakes decisions based on those tests,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

The potentially game-changing legislation came in response to mounting demands for a moratorium by the UFT, parents and other teachers unions as the state’s Common Core rollout proved more and more problematic. Curriculum was not ready, teachers were not trained, and students failed the first tests in huge numbers.

Under the bill, teacher ratings would not use any data derived from state test scores. Student learning based on different measures could still make up the local 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

The bill would bar the use of Common Core-aligned state tests as the sole or primary basis for student promotions or placements and would eliminate this year’s and next year’s state test scores from students’ transcripts. In addition, it would ban the use of state assessments for kindergarten through 2nd-grade students and completely ban standardized testing of prekindergarten students.

In another victory for parent advocates, the bill would delay any transfer of student or school data to the privately held database company InBloom until July 2015.

The proposed legislation, if passed into law, would trump 18 changes to Common Core implementation that were adopted by the state Board of Regents on Feb. 11, including giving high school students until 2022 to meet the new standards. The Regents’ recommendations might have seemed unimaginable a year ago but they were greeted as too little too late.

In early February, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan called for a minimum two-year moratorium. At the same time, Senate Co-leader Dean Skelos and Senate Education Committee Chair John Flanagan, both Republicans, put out a similar call.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted that teacher evaluations go forward this year. But he has also put together a high-level panel of education experts, including Nolan, Flanagan and Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond, to advise him on a better approach to the Common Core.

“The way Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed,” Cuomo said in his budget address on Jan 21. “There is too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.”

That panel, which is expected to release its recommendations in late spring, is advisory only.