Videotaped Message Inviting the Public to Review and Comment on the Common Core Standards
Commissioner Steiner on New York State"s Common Core Standards Initiative - December 2009 (5 minutes)
Videotaped Message Inviting the Public to Review
and Comment on the Common Core Standards
Hello. I’m David Steiner, New York’s Commissioner of Education. I’d like to welcome you to the State Education Department’s Common Core Standards Initiative. And I’d like to thank you, in advance, for what I know will be your thoughtful review and input into these standards.
As you know, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association have initiated a state-led process for developing and adopting a common core of state standards. This initiative is a truly historic opportunity for the states to collectively accelerate the pace of education reform – with the ultimate goal of preparing our children to graduate high school ready to take on the rigors of college and the work place.
New York has historically led the nation in raising standards and we plan to be at the forefront of the national effort to raise them yet again – so that no student graduates without being college-ready. And we arrived before most to this place. As early as two years ago, the Regents – through its Standards Review Initiative – began a thorough review of New York’s ELA and ESL standards. So the idea of renewing our standards – in order to keep them fresh and current – is not a new one for the Regents.
But permit me to step back for a minute to tell you why we’re doing this and what’s at stake here. New York and, indeed, our entire nation, is lagging behind far too many of our global competitors in terms of the way we educate our children. That is unfair to our children and it leaves our state and our country at a strategic disadvantage.
Here’s just one example. Last month the Education Trust reported that while American 4th graders scored slightly above the international average in math, our 8th graders slid below the average and behind 20 other countries. And by 12th grade, American students slipped even further and we outscored only two other countries. Even our top students scored below the international average and outscored no other countries.
So it’s clear that we must act. We must act urgently to provide every student with a world-class curriculum – a curriculum that prepares them for college; for the global economy; for 21st century citizenship; and that prepares them for lifelong learning.
We need to provide students and teachers with curricular frameworks that offer guidelines that are content-rich and sequenced in a way that make sense to students and teachers alike. These guidelines must be based on what students need to learn, know, and be able to do at the end of each grade level.
So that is our challenge. And the Regents have a vision for making this a reality – a vision for education reform here in New York. They are committed to lifting the bar and ensuring that we remain at the very forefront of the national effort to raise standards. They are committed to ending the annual debate about whether our state tests have become harder or easier. And they are committed to putting to rest questions about the difference in student performance on the state exams versus the NAEP national exams.
A series of events will unfold over the next few months as New York looks to adopt new standards informed by both the national work and our own work, including our recently developed ELA/ESL standards. In phase one of this roll-out, the NGA/CCSSO grade-by-grade Common Core Standards for ELA and Math will be posted on SED’s website. We expect that will happen soon. And that’s where you come in. We’ll be seeking your review and input into those proposed standards. Your expertise is absolutely vital to the process. There will be several other phases in this roll-out, but I’ll leave it to my colleagues to explain that process to you once I’ve concluded my remarks.
Will common core state standards finally, truly represent what students need – not simply to enter college, but to succeed there and in the high-skills workforce? The standards movement poses some very deep questions. We must be certain that the federal focus on Math and ELA does not cause us to short change a richer set of curricular domains. And we surely can’t be content to equalize educational opportunities around standards that are too low. So we will reserve our right to go above and beyond the common core state standards. We are, after all, the Empire State – and our motto is excelsior – ever upward.
Thank you, again, for your continued support and partnership in this endeavor. And thank you for your ongoing commitment to educational excellence.