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Mamaroneck Schools Cautious About Aligning Curriculum To Common Core

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Annie Ward, left, and Teacher Colleen Melnyk spoke about the issues.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Annie Ward, left, and Teacher Colleen Melnyk spoke about the issues. Photo Credit: Contributed

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Mamaroneck School District educators say the new Common Core Standards have creating a "very challenging and often frustrating time" for teachers and students, according to a press release. 

The educators spoke about the challenges during the recent Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit meeting on April 8. Mamaroneck Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward and Murray Avenue School Teacher Colleen Melnyk provided community members with an overview of the New York State Common Core State Standards as well as their take on the impact that these new standards are having on students and teachers, according to the release.

Melnyk said that the district has often granted teachers “authority and leeway” but that with Common Core Standards, “what has happened over the last two years . . . feels so top down -- an imposed structure," according to the release. 

Ward said that there is a new "shift away from local control to national standards" that began in 2001 with No Child Left Behind, according to the release. Ward added that in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers partnered with Achieve, ACT and the College Board to develop a national set of learning standards in 2009, "the goal of which was to promote college and career readiness," according to the release.

“The judgment was that NYS standards were not high enough,” Ward said, noting that Common Core's controversy comes down to two things. "The state’s aggressive implementation schedule; and the linkage of assessment results to teacher evaluations." 

State Sen. George Latimer said a third reason was NYS’s "plan to participate in a controversial student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation and operated by an educational technology nonprofit called inBloom," according to the release.

Latimer said NYS ended its relationship with inBloom and new legislation prohibits the NYS Education Department from participating in any similar type of storage of student data, according to the release. Latimer added that he has advocated for "local control of student data," according to the release. 

Ward and Melnyk said they were "optimistic that the joy can and will return to the classrooms, and already are seeing signs of such," according to the release.

Ward said the challenge is to “design a curriculum that addresses the standards but promotes the things that we consider to be so vital for lifelong learning ... that is responsive to the new standards, but not overly channeled into those narrow outcomes. We want kids to use these skills to do things that are meaningful, purposeful and joyful," she said in the release. 

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