The state on August 7 released the results of the first set of state tests tied to the new Common Core standards. The state sent a letter to principals on August 2 confirming that the scores will be "significantly lower" than in the past. The Department of Education accused the UFT of trying to "politicize" the issue after it argued that the lower scores undermined the mayor's claims of educational progress and showed that the DOE had not done enough to train teachers for the new standards.
In response, UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued the following statement:
This is a man-made disaster. It should not have been. The Common Core standards are something teachers fully embrace and support. They are harder, but when used properly will teach reasoning, critical thinking skills, things that children need to move forward. The scores would have dropped this year, but they should not have dropped to this level. We knew three years ago that this state was moving to the Common Core tests. We have been asking for curriculum based on the new standards since that point. This mayor chose to ignore all of our pleas. Many teachers still don’t have a curriculum to develop the lesson plans they need for their classes.
But there’s a larger issue. For years the Mayor has focused the schools on prepping for previous state tests that had to be thrown out because they were unreliable, on closing schools, ignoring parents and demonizing teachers. Instead, the administration could have been working with all parties to anticipate the Common Core, creating the city’s own rigorous curriculum, instructional materials and teacher professional development that would have raised the real standard of learning in New York City schools. With mayoral control, the mayor could have made these changes before the state pushed Common Core. We could have been ahead of everyone.
It didn’t happen, and our children are suffering for it.