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Elia will tap local leaders to review Common Core, testing

New York’s newest education commissioner plans to conduct a review of the Common Core standards and the testing that goes along with it, putting together task forces of school district leaders to help set the direction for the future.

MaryEllen Elia detailed some of her plans for the job Thursday morning in a meeting with members of the Sweet Home School Board. It was her first visit to a school district since taking the job Monday, and marked a return to the place where she started her career as a social studies teacher in 1970.

Elia was set to spend the morning also meeting with parents and teachers from the district.

Already, Elia has addressed many of the key challenges and criticism the state faced under predecessor John B. King, fielding questions about the standards and testing system.

“It’s a very delicate balance,” she said. “One of the things we have to do is look at all of the things that have been problems and assess them in the context of moving forward.”

Elia reinforced that she remains committed to high standards for students, but acknowledged New York’s system is ripe for a review to ensure that its standards are both age- and developmentally appropriate for students.

She also wants to review testing given in local school districts to determine just how much time students spend taking exams, and whether those assessments could be embedded into classroom instruction.

Upon her arrival, Elia was greeted by a group of teachers before even entering Sweet Home Middle School. Between sessions, she was approached in the hallways by former parents and colleagues, welcoming her back to the district.

“It’s exciting for me to be back here,” she said.