On November 12th at the Ward Melville Common Core Forum, letters prepared by Dr. Susan Agruso, Marie Goldstein, and Maria Cirilli were read to Commissioner John King, Chancellor Merryl Tisch, and Senator John Flanagan. Below is the letter written and read by Maria Cirilli.
Thank you, Commissioner King, for hosting this forum and allowing the public to address their concerns about the Common Core Curriculum. Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Maria Cirilli. My children are in 2nd, 3rd & 5th grades in the Kings Park Central School District. I am a concerned parent, President of the Kings Park Council of Schools and Co-President of the RJO Intermediate School Parent Faculty Organization. I am here tonight to speak on behalf of all of the parents in Kings Park.
In our district, our superintendent, Dr. Susan Agruso, was kind enough to host several Common Core Roundtable Discussions. During these community discussions and our parent organization discussions, we have heard many parents acknowledge the positive attributes to the Common Core. Some of the benefits that have been mentioned include: writing is getting much more attention as it is a component of every other subject area, the kids are rising to the challenge and surprising themselves with the higher reading standards, children are exposed to and embracing a sophisticated math vocabulary & advanced concepts at a much younger age. I, myself, have observed an enormous difference in reasoning skills between my children who have only been versed in the Common Core Curriculum and my daughter who began this course of study in 3rd grade. Hopefully, these positive achievements that have been gained through the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum will not be overshadowed in our fervor to improve the curriculum.
As a representative for my district, I also need to relay that a lot of parents are understandably upset about the changes made to the curriculum. The Common Core Curriculum was instituted too quickly without enough training. Unfortunately, some of the modules that the state has disseminated appear to have been hastily prepared as they contain errors. Why weren’t these modules available 2 years ago when my children began instruction using the Common Core Standards? My daughter in 5th grade is one of those students who was caught in the transition. At times, this has made for some stressful situations for both teachers and students. I hear parents constantly worrying that their children are frustrated and withdrawn from school as a result of math that is often developmentally inappropriate. Above all else, our biggest issue is the testing that surrounds all of these changes.
Parents are upset that very young children are sitting for excessive periods of time for testing. Is there something that can be better ascertained about a student in 6 essays as opposed to 4, or 80 multiple choice questions instead of 40? Parents are not satisfied that the tests are designed to accurately measure our students’ knowledge or achievement. Furthering this distrust is the fact that the tests are not released to anyone including parents, teachers or administrators. In addition, many of us believe our students would be better served if the field test questions were completely removed from the actual testing.
It is my hope in speaking tonight & sharing my observations that we can work together to support our children in meeting their full academic potential. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this conversation.