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Low Test Scores Heat Up Politics of Common Core

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TWC News: Low Test Scores Heat Up Politics of Common Core
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As the state grapples with a second straight year of low standardized test scores based on the Common Core learning standards, the politics of the issue continues to heat up. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The news this week was not good. More than 65 percent of city students in elementary and middle school did not pass the state math test, and more than 70 percent didn't pass the English test.

"We've got a lot of work to do to get we're where we want to be," said State Education Commissioner John King.

It's a message he's been repeating all year, since the state first announced last year's test scores, which were even worse.

It's all because the state began testing students based on the Common Core, which are new, more challenging learning standards.

State education officials have faced backlash from angry parents, who packed forums across the state, to teachers, who, for the first time ever, voted in new leadership to the statewide union over the issue.

Eventually, even Governor Andrew Cuomo, a staunch supporter of the higher standards, signed legislation to keep low test scores from counting against teachers for the next two years.

"Do I wish none of this happened? Yes," Cuomo said on June 19.

When the second year of test scores were released Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized he still supports the higher standards.

"We aim high, which is why we do believe in the Common Core curriculum," the mayor said. "We want to handle it right. We don't want to just declare it's there and then not do the work necessary to support it."

But a growing number of families are refusing to take the tests at all. City officials say that close to 2,000 students opted out of taking the tests this year, double the number advocates had anticipated and a major increase from the past two years.

The issue isn't going away, either. Earlier this week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said he submitted 62,000 signatures to put an extra ballot line before voters in November. It would be called "Stop Common Core."

And it's not just the Republicans. Zephyr Teachout, Cuomo's challenger in the Democratic primary, is also campaigning on a promise to end the Common Core.

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