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Albany may tinker with implementation of the Common Core, but standards must remain high

Whatever occurs in the usual eleventh hour of the state budget negotiations, someone should make sure that the new Common Core learning standards are not delayed.

Unsurprisingly, there is tinkering with the controversial plan and not all of it to the benefit of students who would be better served with higher standards.

The Common Core offers the types of academic challenges today’s children should be expected to meet in English and math. However, its implementation has been wrought with anxiety – mainly from parents who do not want to see their children overly taxed and teachers who do not want the results tied to their own evaluations. In other words, adults looking out for adults. For now, teacher evaluations remain linked to standardized test results of students.

As reported, changes to the Common Core were still being debated in Albany. Lawmakers expected that certain program test results will not count against student records for a period of time, additional money will be pumped into teacher professional development funds to aid in the transition to the Common Core system, and there will be no Common Core testing before third grade.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has declared that the final plan will include yet-unspecified delays of the new English and math testing requirements under the Common Core program. The budget, however, will not remove standardized Common Core test results from being partly applied to how teachers are evaluated under a new state system that judges the classroom abilities of teachers.

Students in grades three through eight are due to take a second round of standardized tests next week across the state.

The Common Core learning standards have produced anguish among those who would prefer students operate under conditions that more resemble their own school days. Problem is, the world has changed and global competition has stiffened.

Adapting to the new standards has been a huge uphill climb but getting to the top may require more attention. Getting more funding for teacher training is helpful. It should at least answer the accusation that teachers were not given proper support, and hopefully translate into a better classroom learning environment.

The higher standards demanded under Common Core have been adopted in most states. Such change also warrants evidence that the material is understood, and that is where testing comes into play. Testing is not meant to be punitive but to serve as an indicator as to how much students are learning and understanding the material.

Politicians can tinker with implementation timelines and funding, but the Common Core must retain its original intent of producing better educated students. There really is no more time to delay.