Message from Commissioner King
Let me first congratulate you on the leadership New York State educators have shown in implementing the Common Core. For most of April there was, quite naturally, a lot of focus on the New York State assessments, as roughly 1.2 million students participated in the new third through eighth grade Common Core assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The shift in the assessments to the Common Core for all third through eighth graders is a major milestone in our work to implement the Regents Reform Agenda. As a state, the percentage of students scoring proficient or above will likely decrease as a result of the more challenging expectations of the Common Core around careful analysis of text, writing with evidence from sources, applying math skills to real world problems, and critical thinking. The results this summer will provide a new baseline against which we - parents, educators, and students - can measure our progress toward college and career readiness.
As you know, the Common Core will not just arrive in the mail in a shiny, new box. The Common Core is a comprehensive set of research-based and internationally-benchmarked standards that demands critical shifts in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Since the Board of Regents adopted the Common Core in 2010, the State Education Department has provided extensive and unprecedented resources and supports, including an abundance of instructional materials on EngageNY.org such as the following:
We are also developing a new video series, highlighting effective Common Core instructional practice. Below is a video featuring educators in the Webster Central School District engaging their students in Common Core instruction. Under the leadership of Superintendent Adele Bovard -- with strong support of her Board of Education including Tom Nespeca who is serving on Webster's Board and is currently president of NYSSBA -- Webster is leveraging the Common Core and the implementation of the new teacher and principal evaluation system to help even more of their students achieve college and career readiness. I encourage you to take a look.
Lastly, the Albany Times Union recently published a guest editorial by 2013 State Teacher of the Year Greg Ahlquist, a social studies teacher at Webster Thomas High School. Greg described his experience with the Common Core and how he is working to prepare his students for life after high school. Greg reflected on a visit from a former student who lamented that the skills of close reading and analyzing historical texts -- both skills required in college -- had not been thoroughly taught in high school. After talking with his former student, Greg "realized the curriculum and methods most teachers have been using in the classroom aren't actually preparing students for college." He then explained that "[a]s I began implementing these new [Common Core] standards, my teaching became inspired and so did my students." Read Greg's entire letter here.
I hope these resources and examples are helpful to you as you continue to implement the Common Core in your classroom. Please check EngageNY.org frequently as more resources are posted.
Thank you for all you do every day to help our students learn.
Dr. John B. King, Jr.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnKingNYSED
IN THIS ISSUE: