Parents upset over new Common Core Learning Standards test

Posted at: 04/12/2013 5:05 PM
Updated at: 04/12/2013 8:35 PM
By: Ray Levato

There are growing concerns from some parents with children in elementary and middle school. They're asking has the state gone too far when it comes to standardized testing.

Next week, students in third to eighth grade will have to take the statewide exam called Common Core Tests. It's designed to get students ready for college or a career after high school.

These are the annual state exams in English language arts and math. The difference is the new tests will have higher standards. News10NBC learned that some of the topics on the tests have not even been taught yet.

So why have the students take them now? The state says there's no time to waste. They believe many students are not ready for college or a career when they graduate. Some parents say they are so upset by this they say they won't let the children take the tests.

Some parents are really fired up over this. News10NBC talked with parents outside School No. 33 including city school board member Willa Powell. The New York State Education Department says students are obligated to take the state tests, just like any other test and cannot opt out. But parents say they have the ultimate authority when it comes to their kids. They're going to tell their kids to not pick up the pencil and tell the teacher they don't have to take the state test.

Willa Powell, City School Board Member, said, “Guide your child to tell them how they go about refusing. How they go about refusing is simply do not pick up the pencil. Do not put their name on the page and say I don't have to take this test. It's that simple.”

Beth Laidlaw, City School Parent, said, “My child would not take a test whose score is not reported to the classroom teacher so it can't help the classroom teacher do her job better. The scores are not included in the report card grade so it can't hurt the child not to take it. As a parent, as a U.S. citizen, it is wonderful that I am able to coach my child to refuse these tests.”

News10NBC spoke with the New York State Deputy Education Commissioner in Albany and asked what's the hurry with this new Common Core testing.

Ken Slentz, NYS Deputy Education Commissioner, said, “Here's a simple fact. We have roughly 140,000 of our graduating classes each year that are deemed not ready for college or career by our metric. The longer we as the certified professional adults wait until we feel comfortable and ready for this, that number is just going to escalate.”

According to the New York State Education Commissioner, each year, 140,000 students graduate high school unprepared for college or careers. State Education Commissioner John King wrote a piece in the paper last week. In it, he admitted that kids aren't going to do very well on these new Common Core tests.

Students scores on the test will not affect their grade. As for the teachers, the city school superintendent says this year's test scores will not be used in teacher evaluations, but they will be used going forward after that.

What exactly is common core? The state Education Department said basically it's teaching students the skills they will need to graduate to be ready for college, or to earn a living wage in a career. And to do that, teachers are being asked to teach fewer subjects but spend more time on those fewer subjects.

The New York State Education Department has a video breakdown of the Common Core Standards, gear specifically for parents.