Addressing about 150 people at the Port Washington Public Library Wednesday, Tilles, a Great Neck resident who represents Long Island on the state Board of Regents, said he supported the Common Core academic standards. He said the Common Core “makes kids think” and is “pretty well-received by teachers.”
But at the event sponsored by the Port Washington-Manhasset League of Women Voters, Tilles conceded, the standards are confused with testing and teacher performance.
“The test was supposed to be a growth measure,” and to be “diagnostic” to identify skills and add assistance where needed. When the scores are tied to teacher performance, school boards put pressure on the superintendents who in turn lean on the administrators, and that stress triggers down to the teachers and ultimately the students.
Conceding his view may differ from state policy, he said the scores were “perhaps unreliable” and “used in ways that are downright dangerous.”
Tilles’ comments come just weeks after parents received the English Language Arts and Mathematics Assessment results from tests taken in April. Those scores indicated that 60 percent of students were performing below proficiency, down from 90 percent in “good” districts previously.
The results left students distraught, prompting a growing discussion among families looking to “opt out” of state testing.
But Tilles expects the “scores will be much better” next year, he said, attributing some of the initial resutls to first-year glitches.
Districts, he said, had not fully revamped the curriculum, perhaps because “they didn’t realize that the test would be on the whole curriculum. Kids weren’t taught what they were being tested on,” he said. “Kids came home crying.”
As new curriculum is developed and taught in earlier grades, test scores will improve, he said.
Asked how to stop the high-stakes testing, Tilles recommended residents contact their state senators.
“It’s going to take time,” he said. “Which is another reason students [test scores] shouldn’t be tied to evaluation.”