“Learning standards form the very framework of our educational system, so it's critical that we get this right for all of our students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “As we work to support teachers in implementing these new learning standards, we will place a particular emphasis on educating English language learners, students with disabilities and other special populations.”
“Dedicated teachers, parents and educators from across the state put in countless hours to develop these new draft standards,” Commissioner Elia said. “I thank our review committee members for taking the time to propose meaningful changes to improve the state’s learning standards. Teachers will be able to use these standards as a basis for developing their curricula and lesson plans to meet the needs of students in their classrooms. These changes reflect what I have heard from parents, teachers and administrators over the past year in my travels across the state. Now, we want to hear from educators and parents so we can develop the best learning standards to prepare New York’s children for their futures.”
Recommendations are Result of Year-Long Process with Teachers, Parents and Experts
The new draft standards build upon Commissioner Elia’s past year of traveling more than 35,000 miles across New York state, engaging with parents, teachers and the public about the state’s learning standards and assessments. In addition, the new draft standards meet the 2015 legislative requirement that the standards be reassessed with stakeholder input. SED participated in the Governor’s Task Force to review the state’s learning standards, which made a series of recommendations (link is external) in December 2015. Many of the Task Force’s recommendations are reflected in the recommended changes.
Teachers and parents have been involved in every step of the revision process and their input drove the recommended changes to the learning standards. In fall 2015, SED conducted a survey (AIMHighNY) of teachers, parents and other stakeholders about the current standards. More than 10,500 people responded to the survey and provided over 750,000 pieces of feedback.
In April 2016, SED convened ELA and Math Learning Standards Review committees, which are comprised of more than 130 teachers, administrators, parents, higher education representatives and other key stakeholders from across the state. Committee members participated in a weeklong, in-person summit in Albany and numerous conference calls to help develop recommended changes to the standards. In addition, SED formed Standards Review Leadership Teams which included representatives from the New York State United Teachers, BOCES, the New York City Department of Education and SED.
Collaborative Process Results in Substantive Recommended Changes
The review committees recommended substantive changes to the standards based on the AIMHighNY survey, the recommendations the Governor’s Common Core Task Force Report (link is external) and their own expertise. In addition, the committees engaged with a child development expert to get input on developing age-appropriate standards.
The review committees discussed all of the ELA and mathematics standards and, overall, recommended changes to 60 percent of the ELA standards and 55 percent of the math standards. As they considered changes, the committees focused on ensuring that the standards continue to be rigorous and challenge New York’s students to do more.
English language learner and special education teachers were integral to the process of proposing changes to the standards. In addition, SED has engaged an independent expert to review the new learning standards and provide guidance on how to appropriately implement the standards for ELL and students with disabilities.
Recommended Changes to ELA Standards
Five subcommittee groups (Prekindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12 and Literacy 6-12), all of which included parents and educators, discussed the current ELA standards to determine whether each standard meets the criteria for what a student should know and be able to do at a grade level (or grade-band) in English language arts and literacy. Committees also had an opportunity to recommend new areas to strengthen the standards.
Recommended changes include to:
- Streamline Reading for Information and Reading for Literature Standards by merging them together, identifying the unique skills related to literature and informational text, and ensuring a healthy balance of both types of reading across all grades;
- Refocus on Prekindergarten-Grade 2 Standards with some grade-specific changes and additions to the ELA Standards, including a strong emphasis on the whole child and the importance of play as an instructional strategy. This includes the need for additional guidance for P-2 on how the standards are implemented in the classroom, including sample instructional strategies and activities, definitions and clear connections to teaching English language learners and students with disabilities;
- Create a New York State Early Learning Task Force to discuss concerns around the P-2 grades, including standards, program decisions, social emotional needs and how the content areas/domains work together in the early grades. This task force will be formed in the coming weeks;
- Re-organize Writing Standards so they are easier for educators to use for curriculum and instruction. In addition to regrouping the standards, grade-specific changes are recommended across the grades to clarify language and ensure writing expectations are clear;
- Use a Variety of Texts to balance literary and informational reading with clear guidance for teachers and to ensure students read both full-length texts and shorter pieces, as well as to encourage reading for pleasure; and
- Provide Guidance on Text Complexity for all standards in the introduction to underscore its importance.
- Develop New York State Resources and Guidance for the Standards: A set of learning standards cannot be properly utilized without the necessary guidance. The committees recommend developing a set of resources for standards, curriculum and professional development. These resources would include strategies and supports for students with disabilities and English language learners, as well as instructional strategies that could serve as examples in the classroom;
- Include a Preface and Grade-Level Introductions for the new set of English Language Arts Standards that explains the importance of the standards and their intended role in a school instructional plan. The preface and introduction would outline a belief statement that includes references to best teaching practices and learning strategies that aim to foster a love of learning for all students;
- Develop Clear Communications for Parents about the standards, with an explanation about the connections among standards, curriculum and assessments; and
- Create a Glossary of Terms that contains words or important terms used within the standards.
Seven grade band/course subcommittees (PreK-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Plus Standards) comprised of New York State P-12 classroom teachers, special education teachers, English language learner teachers, parents, curriculum specialists, school administrators and college professors discussed and made recommendations for possible revisions or additions to the standards.
Recommended changes include to:
- Clarify the Standards so that educators, students and parents clearly understand the expectation, without limiting instructional flexibility. For example, recommended modifications would help better define the progression of skills and the transition of some of the 18 shared standards between Algebra I and Algebra II;
- Strengthen Coherency of the Standards to allow for a stronger connection of learning within and across grade levels. For example, one additional standard at the Kindergarten level would help solidify pattern recognition and creation from Pre-K to Grade 2. In addition, standards regarding time and money would be added and current standards would be changed to smooth the transition of building these skills at the PreK-grade 3 level;
- Improve focus of major content and skills for each grade-level and course while providing more time for students to develop deep levels of understanding. For example, to remove the parabola/directrix/focus standard out of Algebra II and place it in the plus standards with the study of conics;
- Maintain the Rigor of the Standards by balancing the need for conceptual understanding, procedural skill and application. For example, clearly identify the fluency standards at the high school level; and
- Create a Glossary of Verbs associated with the mathematics standards. This glossary contains a list of verbs that appear throughout the revised standards recommendations.
The new draft learning standards for ELA and mathematics are available on SED’s AIMHighNY website for public review and comment. To review the new draft standards for ELA, visit: http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-english-language-arts. To review and comment on the ELA standards, please download the grade level you would like to comment on and then complete the survey questions.
To review the new draft standards for mathematics, visit: http://www.nysed.gov/draft-standards-mathematics. To comment on mathematics, please download the Mathematics Standards Glossary as well as the grade level you would like to comment on and then complete the survey questions. The surveys include questions about the draft standards as well as a comment box for each section.
Comments may be submitted individually or as a group. SED will work with BOCES to encourage schools to host regional forums to provide comments on the recommendations.
This fall, SED will carefully review the public comments and make final revisions to the ELA and Mathematics Learning Standards. The final revisions will be presented to the Board of Regents for its consideration in early 2017.
Audio and video of Commissioner Elia discussing the new draft learning standards is available:
- Audio: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/media-qa-ela-and-math-standards-changes.mp3
- Video: http://www.nysed.gov/video/media-qa-ela-and-math-standards-changes