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6-4-15 Common Core To Remain in Place While Extensive, Community Engaged Holistic Study Occurs

NJ Spotlight - Hespe Justifies Review of Common Core, Suggests Changes May Not Be Drastic…Tells state board that time has come to look at effectiveness of controversial standards, look for ways to improve on them   ‘…Afterward, he said that while the process could be completed within the year, the Common Core remains the standards of record for now -- and certainly through the next school year – and that the end product may not be terribly different than what’s now in place…“I believe in the theory behind the Common Core,” he [Mark Biedron, State Board of Education President] said. “I don’t believe in throwing out the whole Common Core and starting over. That won’t happen.”  ’

John Mooney | June 4, 2015

A week after Gov. Chris Christie shook up the education establishment and announced he would no longer support the Common Core State Standards, New Jersey schools probably shouldn’t expect any big changes any time soon – or maybe at all.

State Education Commissioner David Hespe yesterday offered his most expansive public comments yet on Christie’s announcement, promising that the review of the Common Core standards would be a “highly deliberative” and inclusive process.

Speaking at the State Board of Education meeting, Hespe said the review could have had been expected anyway at the five-year mark of the Common Core. He said it will help bring improvements to the controversial standards.

He told the board he will have more details on the process within the month.

“Standards are living documents, not set in stone,” he said. “And now is a very good time to do this, to look at where we are going.”

Afterward, he said that while the process could be completed within the year, the Common Core remains the standards of record for now -- and certainly through the next school year – and that the end product may not be terribly different than what’s now in place.

“We’ll be at a different place,” Hespe said in an interview. “How much different? If history is a judge, it may not be that much, but it will be a different place.”

At another point, he said: “This is more of a renovation, not a tear-down.”

Hespe said he hopes the review will address some key gaps in the existing standards.

For instance, he said more attention has to be given to subjects other than math and language arts, which are the two academic areas covered by the Common Core. He added that the review will result in more attention being paid to technology skills as well.

Even within the Common Core standards, questions have been raised about the appropriateness of some specific areas, including universal requirements for Algebra II, or whether there should be more attention paid to so-called “soft skills” like collaboration and communication.

“Where is computer science?” Hespe asked. “Are we preparing students enough for STEM careers?”

The comments at the start of the State Board meeting came a little more than a year after the same board – most of them appointed by Christie – had reiterated its support for the Common Core even as controversy and debate started to heat up around the standards and their aligned tests, the PARCC exams.

This was no inconsequential forum, as the board will have to approve any new standards. And board members yesterday were measured in their comments, not disavowing the Common Core but also not objecting to the governor’s call for a review.

Several said they continued to support the national standards, but recognized the value of taking a new look at where there may be gaps, especially with the first results of the new PARCC testing coming due this summer.

Christie, in his disavowal of Common Core, said the state would be keeping ther PARCC, at least for now.

“I think this process is a valid one,” said Ronald Butcher, one of the board’s longest-sitting members. “This gives us an opportunity to look at the standards and collect data [from PARCC] on those standards.”

Butcher, for one, said this may be an opportunity for the state to put more emphasis on civics education.

Others explicitly said they continued to stand by the Common Core, including both current board President Mark Biedron and past president Arcelio Aponte, who led the board when it readopted the standards in early 2014.

“The board is pretty unified in this view,” Biedron said in an interview. “We believe in the pedagogy and theory behind the Common Core and PARCC, and the need to move from content-based instruction to the problem-solving, high-order skills. We still believe that.

“But at four years, going on five, it is a great time to review it,” he said. “Does it have holes? Sure.”

Asked specifically whether he agrees with the governor that the Common Core isn’t working, Biedron hesitated.

“I believe in the theory behind the Common Core,” he said. “I don’t believe in throwing out the whole Common Core and starting over. That won’t happen.”

 

The Record - N.J. education chief to unveil plans for review of academic standards   ‘…Now is a good time, he said, to see how schools have adapted to the Common Core and what can be improved or updated. “We’re five years into the process and at this time we have a good vantage point to make certain we are where we want to be,” said Hespe… Hespe said he wants to ensure that standards were being taught across all subjects. He wants to see whether there are curriculum gaps in so-called STEM fields, named for science, technology, engineering and math. He also wants the review to look at the “bigger picture” of whether struggling students are getting help they need and whether students are leaving with the skills they to complete college…’

June 3, 2015, 6:54 PM    Last updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 6:54 PM

By HANNAN ADELY

TRENTON – The state’s top education official said Wednesday that he will unveil plans next month for a sweeping review of academic standards to answer Governor Christie’s call for an overhaul.

The governor said in a speech last week that the Common Core set of standards “simply isn’t working” and was a case of federal overreach. But Education Commissioner David Hespe, in comments at the state Board of Education meeting, didn’t share the same critical tone.

Instead, he said New Jersey has continuously reviewed standards used by schools that define what students should know in each grade. Now is a good time, he said, to see how schools have adapted to the Common Core and what can be improved or updated.

“We’re five years into the process and at this time we have a good vantage point to make certain we are where we want to be,” said Hespe.

Hespe, education advocates and school board members have spent countless hours touring the state to promote and explain the standards and have developed websites to help in that effort. Now, they are tasked with picking apart those standards in a point-by-point review with public input.

Hespe said he wants to ensure that standards were being taught across all subjects. He wants to see whether there are curriculum gaps in so-called STEM fields, named for science, technology, engineering and math. He also wants the review to look at the “bigger picture” of whether struggling students are getting help they need and whether students are leaving with the skills they to complete college.

“We want them to evolve and to make sure we are constantly preparing our students for future demands. We are always looking to see if our standards are high enough, if our standards are clear enough, if our standards are age-appropriate,” he said.

The education commissioner said he will outline his plans in July, including how parents, educators and education groups will come together to review and make recommendations. Scores from new state tests will help inform that review, he said.

Christie’s call for an overhaul comes amid national criticism – largely from conservative Republicans – that the Common Core infringes on states’ rights. The Common Core was developed by state officials working with private education groups, but federal dollars are linked to it. The standards are in use in 43 states.

Christie, a potential GOP presidential candidate, said he believed that there should be more local input and that standards should be specific to New Jersey.

Several other states have moved to replace Common Core with more localized standards, but have ended up with standards that are largely the same as the old ones, according to education groups.

In New Jersey, many education activists and teachers were unhappy with the planned review because Christie has vowed to keep in place the controversial state tests that measure students knowledge of Common Core standards.

The Common Core will stay in place until the review process is completed, Hespe said. After the review, the state will let schools know what has changed and why, while providing resource and time for schools to make changes, he said.

Email: adely@northjersey.com

 

Star Ledger – Common Core Review Will Be “Highly Inclusive,” Says Education Chief  ‘…For now, Hespe said, schools should continue to use the standards while the state completes its highly deliberative review…’

By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger  Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on June 03, 2015 at 1:14 PM, updated

TRENTON — State Education Commissioner David Hespe, under orders from Gov. Chris Christie to review and possibly replace the Common Core Educational standards that he has turned against, said Wednesday he would introduce a plan next month for working with education groups.

Hespe told the state Board of Education that he would introduce a "highly inclusive" and "highly engaged" plan to arrive a new set of education standards, including setting up an online site to allow anyone to comment on the state's standards.

"Now is a very good time to do this, to take a look at, reflect on what we are doing," said Hespe, who was appointed to his post by the governor last year.

Christie, who had long been a supporter of Common Core despite opposition from some Republicans in Washington, declared last week that Common Core is "simply not working" in New Jersey and called for a point-by-point review of the standards that outline what skills students should master in English and math at each grade level.

He asked that the group conducting the review recommend standards that come directly from New Jersey communities.

Hespe emphasized on Wednesday that state's education standards, which existed long before Common Core, were "living and breathing documents."

"We are always looking to see if our standards are high enough," Hespe said. "We always look to see if our standards are clear enough. We always look to see if they are age appropriate."

 

In 2010, New Jersey was among the first of more than 40 states to adopt Common Core, standards that Christie praised at the time. The standards emphasize problem-solving and college and career readiness but do not require teachers to use a certain curriculum.

But over time Christie — who is probably going to announce his intention to seek the Republican presidential nomination by the end of the month — said he began to develop grave concerns about Common Core, which has become increasingly unpopular among conservative Republicans.

For now, Hespe said, schools should continue to use the standards while the state completes its highly deliberative review.

"Until this process is complete, our standards remain in place," he said.

At the same time that Christie denounced the Common Core standards, he maintained his support for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams.

Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, said last week that it was odd to continue with PARCC because the test is aligned with Common Core.

Nonetheless, Hespe said that Christie's call for a review comes at a good time because the state will have new data from the PARCC exams, and the state will be able to see how students are performing in relation to specific standards.

Any changes to the state standardized must be approved by the Board of Education.

"I think there come moments in time where really very amazing things can happen," Mark Biedron, president of the board, said. "And I think this could be one of those moments in time."

Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClark. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828