ALBANY — The New York State Education Department has released new draft state English Language Arts and Mathematics learning standards, the culmination of a year-long effort to gather feedback from thousands of educators and parents through a statewide survey and subsequent committee review. This summer, two committees of more than 100 teachers and parents reviewed every standard over the course of a week and recommended changing 60 percent of the ELA and 55 percent of the math standards. NYSED is now accepting public comments on the draft standards through
“For ELA, the big change they’re really looking for is in the Pre-K to grade two standards,” said David Hurst, assistant superintendent for the Bethlehem Central School District, at the Wednesday, Sept. 21 school board meeting. “There was a lot of discussion about developmental appropriateness at those levels.” Hurst participated in the committee review, which took place at the Capital Region BOCES during the second week of June. “For math, really more clarification is what people were looking for. Standards were vague in the past.”
Ultimately, ELA changes include: refocusing Pre-K through Grade 2 to emphasize learning through play and emphasizing “whole child” development; creation of a state Early Learning Task Force to address early learning concerns; the merging of Reading for Information and Reading for Literature standards; and the reorganization of Writing standards to make them easier to teach and to clarify expectations. The committees also recommend the development of a set of guidelines and resources for educators to utilize, better communication with parents and the creation of a glossary of terms to mitigate potential confusion.
In math, clarification of standards, specifically between the Algebra I and Algebra II standards, was recommended, as well as strengthening their coherency “to allow for a stronger connection of learning within and across grade levels.” A glossary of math verbs was also recommended.
More information about the revisions, as well as the link to provide feedback, can be found on the NYSED website at http://www.nysed.gov/aimhighny. An introductory video on the site features Hurst talking about the review process. “Coming in there were no ground rules really put forth,” he says. “We were able to really bring our own perspectives and those that we had gathered from colleagues. The State didn’t really set an agenda in terms of what the outcome should look like. It was really left to us to read the standards carefully.”
After the public comment period closes, the hope is that the new standards will be adopted at the January Board of Regents meeting.