Slow down and get it right

Published on Friday, February 28, 2014

by NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer

A lot has happened around Common Core, evaluation, and testing in New Jersey in the last few weeks. On Feb. 10, I testified at a hearing held by the Assembly Education Committee. I made the case that New Jersey needs to slow down its implementation of Common Core, the new evaluation system and the planned PARCC tests because if we don’t get them right, they are all likely to fail.

I wasn’t the only one there to testify about problems with implementation. Representatives from other organizations, including the New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, expressed similar concerns about the rushed and haphazard way the NJDOE is imposing those changes on districts. By the end of the hearing, legislators were nodding in agreement, and Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan acknowledged a strong consensus around the need to slow down and do things the right way.

The same day that I testified in New Jersey, the New York State Education Department announced that it was going to do exactly that. Rather than rush the implementation of the Common Core and related high-stakes assessments linked to evaluation, New York is slowing down to, in its words, “give principals, teachers, parents and students the time to adjust to the new standards without stopping our progress toward the goal we all share: college and career readiness for every student.” It’s a smart approach to a very important job.

New Jersey has an opportunity to follow suit.

And we will continue to press the case that when it comes to the kinds of changes New Jersey is trying to make around standards, evaluation, and testing, it’s critically important that we take the time and do the work required to get it right.

School employees, students and New Jersey families deserve nothing less.

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