Families & the Community

New York State PTA Calls For Yearlong Delay On Common-Core Testing

By Karla Scoon Reid — November 15, 2013 2 min read
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The New York State PTA is mounting an advocacy campaign to call for a one-year moratorium on tests tied to the Common Core State Standards.

In addition to requesting that the state department of education reduce the number of state tests, the New York State PTA wants testing standards to be more flexible for English-language learners and students with disabilities, according to a Nov. 12 article in Newsday. The group believes that recent student test scores should not be used to evaluate teacher performance either. Instead the New York State PTA will advocate that teachers should receive additional guidance to successfully implement the common core standards into their lesson plans.

“We remain strongly supportive of the common core standards, but the implementation of these standards needs a significant course correction,” New York State PTA President Lana Ajemian said during a press conference this week. “A rushed implementation, combined with excessive testing, has already shaken confidence in the common core, and we cannot afford more confusion and discontent over what is otherwise a worthy effort.”

To rally support for its campaign, the article notes that New York State PTA leaders plan to develop lobbying efforts and events as well as meet with state education officials, lawmakers, and the media. Ajemian declined to disclose how much the campaign would cost, according to the story. The nonprofit is funded primarily from dues from its 300,000 members.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first state PTA to come out against high-stakes testing in this way,” Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing said in the article. “I wonder if this will lead to opposition in other states.”

Passions surrounding the implementation of the common core in New York are running high.

In an Oct. 14 post on her blog, Ajemian wrote that the New York State PTA was forced to “suspend” future town hall meetings about the common core. The state PTA-sponsored events were supposed to be forums where members could ask state department of education officials, including Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr., questions about the state standards.

Apparently, that wasn’t the case at the first forum which Ajemian described as a “hostile environment” that was “not constructive or productive.” Ajemian wrote: “Despite requests by the Commissioner and NYS PTA to be courteous, disruptions continued and escalated.”

In her post, Ajemian added: “The decision to suspend the remaining forums was based on this experience as well as communications that there would be more of the same, yet intensified, ahead.”

King was apparently booed during a forum about the common core at a Long Island high school this week. About 1,500 people, including state Sen. John Flanagan, chair of the senate’s education committee, attended the forum, according to an article on LongIsland.com.

Here’s one teacher’s impassioned speech at the forum.

If parents cannot effectively communicate their concerns about the common core during town hall meetings and public forums without resorting to jeers, will they be able to mount a successful campaign for meaningful changes to the academic standards?

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.