NJ Common Core changes not expected until Fall 2016
Officials at a state Board of Education meeting made it clear Wednesday that committees would be formed solely to review the Common Core's two education standards, and that New Jersey parents waiting for changes should not expect them before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
In May, many of those parents had said they were happy when Gov. Chris Christie indicated he planned to overhaul Common Core.
"This is an opportunity to improve, inform and communicate what our academic expectations are," said state Education Commissioner David Hespe. "Until the review process is complete, your adoption process is complete and our timeline for implementation is complete, the standards will remain the same as they are currently."
A newly-formed committee would review information gathered by three subcommittees that will amass data through community focus groups, listening groups and an online survey that was expected to be on the Department of Education's website in roughly a week. Final recommendations are scheduled to be made public Jan. 6, 2016.
During a presentation to the board, Assistant Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington said the idea is to improve upon standards that already exist for the two portions of Common Core: math and English language arts. Seven other areas exist as part of the curriculum, but are not considered Core standards.
"Rather than start from scratch, we will not be tearing down and starting over, but rather looking critically at where there are opportunities for clarification, for omission and for addition, to make sure that we always have the top standards for our students," Harrington said.
Although the final recommendations will be made early next year, Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple indicated changes would not happen immediately.
"When it comes to standards review, the old standards always remain in place until the new standards are implemented," Yaple wrote in an email. "You typically wouldn't see states implementing new standards in the middle of a school year."
The committees are expected to be finalized by July 31. Public comments will be permitted from July to mid-August, with the comments being reviewed at a one-day meeting. Listening tours will then be scheduled for September, as more reviews and updates follow from the end of August through the end of October. After that, more public comment and further review is anticipated, culminating in another one-day meeting in mid-December.
A complete copy of Harrington's presentation can be downloaded here.
Not everyone was thrilled with the news about the review committees. New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer said this move was purely political, because as he runs for president, Christie wants to appease nationwide Republican voters who oppose Common Core. Steinhauer was also disappointed that the controversial PARCC test was not addressed.
"If it doesn't make sense and it's illogical, then it's all about being political and that's what this is," Steinhauer said. "We're still going to do PARCC all over again. The PARCC is aligned to the Common Core. If we're serious about changing away from the Common Core, then we should be just as serious about getting rid of PARCC."