By Arianna Maugeri and Jennifer Corr
SELDEN, NY–Middle Country Central School District officials discussed on Jan. 31 the process of changing its English language arts department to meet the new standards for the upcoming Next Generation program, which will replace the controversial Common Core.
The changes will emphasize different styles of informal and formal writing, and reading and writing for pleasure, Kyrie Siegel, the coordinator for the ELA department, said during her presentation to the board of education.
“We are committed to making sure we meet our students needs,” Kyrie Siegel said.
Next Generation standards, which will be proprietary to New York State, are a departure from Common Core, which was implemented in 2015. The idea behind Common Core was to promote reasoning and evidence collecting skills in its ELA students, but it was not well received.
“It’s a little bit convoluted compared to the way we learned,” James Loeffler, a parent, said. “When your 11-year-old’s homework is hard to explain, that’s a problem.”
The NY State Education Department began taking feedback from parents and teachers in 2015, when the revisions for Next Generation had just started. By that time, Common Core had changed the way students learned ELA and math.
While Common Core was controversial to parents who could no longer help their children with homework, some teachers felt that the curriculum would prepare students for the future.
“The people who go through common core will be more prepared for college than people who did not go through common core. However, many of our students don’t go through college,” Bill Clark, a math teacher at Eastern Suffolk Boces, said. “For those students, we’re putting unnecessary strain on them to graduate.”
In response to criticism that Common Core was not age appropriate, a committee of teachers and parents recommended a curriculum for younger NY students. Kindergarten through second grade students will have a play-time incorporated into their curriculum. For middle school students, they will learn probability and statistics instead of algebra, which will be taught in high school.
From the very beginning of the process of creating Next Generation, the state has been proactive in involving teachers as they interact with students the most, Jonathan Burman, a spokesperson for the NY State Education Department, said.
“Every district in the State has received extensive information about the new standards from the very beginning of the development process, which they were invited to participate in, through the adoption of the standards, and now during their implementation,” Burman said.
Through after school meetings and email communications, MCCSD has notified its teachers about the upcoming changes in the math and ELA curriculum and exams. The president of the board of education, Karen Lessler, is excited that the district is evolving for its students.
“We are creating students that not only would meet state and local standards, they’re going to meet standards that are going to be the tools they need to be successful, and I think that’s wonderful,” Lessler said.