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Friday, April 18, 2014
North Merrick superintendent comments on the Common Core
(Page 3 of 3)
Courtesy David Feller
David Feller, superintendent of the North Merrick School District and this year

“I would implore you that in the future, please get meaningful input from the troops on the ground who will be most impacted before you put your stamp on any new legislation that impacts education. Let’s take APPR, for example. The teacher evaluation statistics are being released right now … In many ways, the data is meaningless because, by law, each district negotiated its own plan with its teacher bargaining unit … You may have 700 different methodologies … which translate into how a teacher receives one of the four ratings, from ‘highly effective’ to ‘ineffective.’ Therefore, it is impossible to compare the data from one school district to another. Also, the notion that a teacher or a principal’s evaluation is given as a number from 0 to 100 is unprofessional and, quite frankly, demeaning … If this was the direction that the state wanted to follow, it should have mandated one plan with one system.”

“As we move forward, I would strongly recommend the following:

I believe that the goal and principles behind [the Common Core] are worthwhile. We do want to make certain that our children develop higher-level thinking skills and are ready to thrive in an ever-changing world. However, New York state should be a leader, not a follower. We should not automatically accept and adopt every aspect of the Common Core … just because 44 other states have. We should look carefully at developmental issues, especially at the earlier grades, to be certain that our children are ready to handle all of the demands that are being asked of them.

Future assessments must be designed to truly measure what students have learned; these assessments should be administered so that our children have ample opportunity to complete them. We should consider untimed tests, especially at the elementary level.

Given the high-stakes nature of these tests, eliminate the field test questions, as they just add to the stress level of the children.

If it were in my power, I would ask for a one-year moratorium on the grades three to eight testing.

The State Education Department needs to review the APPR structure and the inordinate amount of lost instructional time due to additional testing.

Students who take the algebra Regents in grade eight should not be required to also take the grade eight math assessment.

Results of future assessments need to be available to the districts by the end of the current school year. This would enable the districts to carefully analyze the data and develop appropriate intervention and curriculum strategies during the summer prior to the beginning of a new school year.

Provide focused assistance to those districts that have consistently been underperforming.”

“Let’s not turn our anger over implementation into a rejection of the Common Core. Our teachers and administrators cannot do justice by our children if we alter the requirements every year. Let’s restore New York to a position of national leadership and make certain that the Common Core fits into what we know is best for our children.”

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