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November 14, 2013

Common Core meeting draws crowd

B Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Cooperstown Central School hosted an Assessment Information Night on Monday, November 4th for parents and community members. Over 55 people attended to learn more about the educational shifts to the New York State Common Core Curriculum.

Of Common Core Lynn Strang, the director of Student Services at CCS and the executive principal said,

“I think it’s a guide. It specifically outlines what each child needs to know and at what age.”

People questioned the degree of rigor expected in mathematics among the different ages. They also asked about the type of assessment children would get in each grade, Strang said.

“The reason we decided to have this event is because we had a lot of people calling,” Strang said. “We wanted to demystify the changes in education.”

“It’s very important for people to understand the shifts in common core,” Strang continued.

The major shifts that Strang noted in the Common Core Curriculum are more focus on “fluency and problem-solving in mathematics, and in English language arts (ELA) a balance of authentic text and text based writing,” Strang said.

One of the most significant changes in mathematics is that students are expected to be able solve multistep problems that test the student’s ability to read and follow specific directions and show all of their work, Strang said.

According to engageny.org, students in ELA grades 3 through 8 will now read 50 percent nonfiction texts that relate to what students are learning in science and history and 50 percent of the traditional literature that has typically been taught in English class.

Strang noted that the expectations for reading are much higher than in the past. During assessments, students are expected to read longer passages that are dense with information. Some of the teachers have complained that the passages are too long and difficult and that students aren’t given adequate time to finish, Strang said.

New York State Education is phasing in the Common Core Regents examinations. For the 2013-2014 academic year, students will now be responsible for the Algebra I Regents Examination, typically taken in 9th grade and 11th grade English; both with Common Core standards, Strang said. The students do have the option to take the older version of the test if they chose, Strang said.

Strang noted that there are several benefits to the new standards and that overall the change is a “good” thing.

“They will help students to be good problem solvers and good thinkers,” Strang said.

Other positive rewards include the ability to assess a student’s ability and knowledge at any given point, parents are more informed, every grade level is responsible for certain learning outcomes so students can move from one part of the state to another and they will be on track with their peers, Strang said.

“It’s very standardized education. It’s a good thing,” Strang said.

For more information regarding the shifts in Common Core in NYS go to Engageny.org. More specifically, if parents are looking for an overall “roadmap” for English language arts they can visit this link, http://www.cgcs.org/Page/328 or for information on mathematics go to http://www.cgcs.org/Page244.