The current Common Core standards are limited to English and math, but will expand to all subjects in the coming years. Instead of rolling these standards in one grade level at a time over several years, as other states have done, New York State has implemented them for every math and English student from third to eighth grade at once.
Along with the standards and the assessments, teachers are now subjected to modules — scripted 10-week units that they are to follow in order to stay aligned to the core. Teacher artistry and creativity has been decimated, and although the commissioner may claim that the modules are not mandated, that local control of curriculum still exists, a closer look says otherwise: up to 25 percent of a grade 3-8 Math or ELA teacher’s annual evaluation is based on the grade-level state assessment, and the message at area common core trainings is that questions on the assessments will be structured like those on the modules. This is clearly a back-door mandate, and New York State teachers and students are at risk of becoming generic.
Despite thousands of teacher layoffs in an era when state education aid has been drastically reduced, NYS is hiring “common core coaches” to come into our schools to help with the transition.
Common Core can be traced back to the 2009 stimulus bill, which gave $4.35 billion to the Federal Department of Education. This created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, states needed to adopt Common Core. Participating states would then be exempt from many of the difficult provisions of the “No Child Left Behind” program.
To date, Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, but many are already jumping ship, with opposition developing in the states of Utah, California, Indiana, and Missouri among others.