Can New York suspend the Common Core curriculum?

The simple answer is yes — but it’s unlikely.

The board of the state teacher’s union has called for New York to put a three-year moratorium on implementing the Common Core, a set of rigorous academic standards adopted by 48 states in order to receive federal Race to the Top funds. The board’s recommendation will now go to a vote of the union’s membership.

If the referendum is approved, NYSUT will join a growing chorus of groups across the political spectrum demanding that states pull back on rolling out the new standards and the testing programs that accompany them. The critics include parents worried about the burdens of standardized testing, teachers’ unions concerned about being penalized for not meeting an impossible standard, and libertarians who believe standards should be set locally.

New York would not be the first state to put the brakes on its Common Core transition. In May, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a Republican, signed a “pause” bill, which told schools to stop implementing the new standards until public hearings and a fiscal impact study could take place. A similar bill is currently working through the Tennessee legislature.

These bills aren’t very different from what New York Senator Terry Gipson, a Hudson Valley Democrat, asked of State Education Commissioner John King at a hearing this week on the state education budget. “Can we put [Common Core] on hold until we can input from teachers, parents and students?” asked Gipson.

King rebuffed the proposal. “I don’t think it makes sense to go backwards and retreat from having our students do more writing and reading more,” he said.

While a cohort of New York assembly members have sponsored legislation that would repeal Common Core, the New York Board of Regents, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has claimed complete authority over curriculum. The governor has been a vocal supporter of Common Core, though he has also suggested that the rollout was botched by the Regents Board; he has proposed a review panel.

King has rejected outright NYSUT calls for reverting back to the pre–Common Core tests for 3rd through 8th grades. These do not affect student promotions, but do affect teacher evaluations.

Though Commissioner King has said he refuses to consider putting off the new standards or teacher evaluations based on Common Core standards, he has been open to changing some of the tests.

King also said he might consider one of NYSUT’s demands — pushing back the implementation of Common Core standards in tests required for graduation.

In one small but significant way, such delays have already begun. This year’s high school freshmen will be the first required to pass new Common Core tests in order to graduate. But last summer, the Board of Regents voted to allowed the first Common Core class to take both the old and Common Core Regents exams in Algebra I, with only the higher of the two scores counting. The move is likely to increase the number of students who pass.

Data Tools


Our work has appeared in…

About TNYW

The New York World focuses on producing data-driven investigative projects.