News
New York Needs High Education Standards
Capital NY, June 10, 2015

While this year’s math and English Language Arts test results are still a few weeks away, there’s already one major accomplishment for us all to be proud of – 99 percent of students in New York City took this year’s exams. That same analysis from High Achievement New York found 98 percent of students in the state’s five largest cities also opted in.

It is clear for urban students, Common Core is a lifeline.

The reason these kids took the tests and that their parents are committed to higher standards is because they are seeing results. Across New York, parents are watching as their children learn and retain more information, providing a real pathway forward for their kids. They know that more rigorous standards are the only way that we can improve their schools and ensure that every one of our city’s students is college and career ready in the 21st century.

The standards, developed by education professionals, are not a curriculum, instead they are benchmarks that help guide learning in classrooms across the state. It is classroom teachers in districts that are empowered to design their own curriculum.

To the New York business community the need for more rigorous standards is an immediate concern. We need college educated young people who are ready to work from day one and help this state’s businesses grow.

In New York, nearly 70 percent of all jobs will require a college degree by 2020. But just 56 percent of students who go to college actually earn a bachelor’s degree within six years – giving the U.S. the lowest college completion rate in the developed world.

International data ranks us behind both China and Russia when it comes to an index of cognitive skills and educational attainment.

By remaining committed to challenging our students, we will continue turning the tide. We are changing New York State education for the better, and that progress will ultimately ensure our students are ready to succeed.

Despite the important steps forward we have already taken, some voices are calling for us to take a step backwards and revert to a failed system. That old system let far too many children fall through the cracks – which is an outcome we cannot stand for.

Reversing course by eliminating the standards or going backwards on assessments to measure student progress will harm our children, our educators and the future growth of our state, undoing the work enabled by the significant time and money spent in their planning and implementation.

We cannot pull the rug out from under our educators just as they are beginning to see the results we need for a strong future. Regardless of the test scores we see in the next few months, we must stay the course. Transformational change is rarely quick, and it’s often peppered with fits and starts. We cannot let that distract us from the urgent need to do the work to get Common Core right for New York’s students.

The arrival of a new state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, is an encouraging sign that the standards are here to stay and that we can have an open and useful dialogue about how to continue to improve their implementation. The best way to support the new commissioner in continuing to close the achievement gap and better arm our students for competition in the global economy is to support higher standards.

This is a critical moment for the future of education in our state. Our students are demonstrating that they are ready to meet the challenge of rigorous standards in the classroom. Our leaders need to show that they support those students and their teachers. Now is not the time for politics, it is time for leadership.

LINK: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/education/2015/06/8569809/new-york-needs-high-education-standards

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