New York, Keep the Bar High for Students

After the New York Department of Education released proposed changes to the state’s education standards, which largely recommend clarifications and rewording but keep expectations high for students, some opponents are demanding the state go back to its previous learning goals, Breitbart News reports.

“Revive the ‘lost standards’ and bring them back to the table or revert to pre-Common Core days,” said the co-founders of Stop Common Core in New York State. New York educators are “more than capable of coming up with their own child-centered, age-appropriate standards that educate all children.”

We agree that standards are only one part of the equation, but they are an important one. In New York, like most states, officials have raised classroom expectations, better ensuring that all students are held to levels that will fully prepare them for success at advanced stages of learning, and ultimately to succeed in college and careers. To turn back on that work would put students and teachers at a disadvantage.

New York’s review process was not a casual exercise, as critics allege, either. It was conducted by state educators split into subcommittees to review the English language arts and math standards. Those groups’ recommendations were provided to the Board of Regents, which edited them further. They are now subject to public input that will likely produce further changes.

“What will this mean for you, your child or your students?” writes Suraj Gopal, a New York City teacher involved in the review. “Hopefully, better building blocks for learning at all ages. Far from merely being philosophical or academic, issues raised by the participants arose from their experience with the standards in classrooms and at home.”

Polling indicates parents strongly support rigorous, consistent education standards, no matter what labels are attached. That’s what states like New York are now delivering. Officials continue to tailor their learning goals to meet their students’ needs, building up on the baseline line established by common classroom expectations.

That work is already beginning to pay off: Across the country, states that have put their full support behind implementation of high standards have overwhelmingly seen improvements in student performance, according to results from assessments aligned to those goals.

A Harvard study this year notes, “In short, the Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.” In fact, only one state—Oklahoma—has reverted back to inferior learning goals.

In that regard, the Common Core has achieved its purpose – to raise classroom expectations and accelerate implementation of high standards. Most states have moved past semantics and are continuing forward with high, comparable education standards that are tailored to their students’ needs. It’s time the national conversation move forward as well.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” Jim Cowen explains. “Policymakers should continue to raise the bar for students to be certain that, when they leave high school, they are prepared for college, the workforce, or any other path they may choose.”

New York has created high expectations for students, it’s matched those goals with accurate, challenging assessments, and it continues to review and refine its policies to ensure they meet student needs. That is a huge success for parents, teachers and local communities. To turn back on that work, as some critics insist, would be a mistake and put students at a disadvantage.