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September 19, 2016

To the New York State Board of Regents and State Education Commissioner Elia,
As a coalition of concerned New York State educators, parents, civic leaders, employers, and advocates,
we believe the students of New York State deserve high standards that will adequately prepare them for
college and careers. Good standards provide clear, measurable, and achievable goals for our schools and
students that make expectations clear for families, teachers, and the general public and ensure
equitable treatment for all children, in all schools, no matter where they reside.
This past spring and early summer, a group of deeply committed educators and partners took the time
to go through the standards with a fine-toothed comb and create a set of recommended updates. As we
anticipate the release of these recommendations and the period for public comment that follows, we
want to be clear that we appreciate the hard work they put into this review process and support their
efforts to strengthen the standards and improve them. These standards must continue to be a living
document that evolves along with our understanding of what high quality standards are.
Opponents of the standards, however, wont be satisfied with thoughtful changes and improvements;
they are only interested in a full repeal of the standards or an outright moratorium without
considering the consequences. Not only would a repeal mean pulling the rug out on teachers and
students after five years of hard work, but it would also mean returning to a failed system that let
millions of students, especially children of color, slip through the cracks and graduate unprepared for
college and beyond. We need to find ways to improve standards and enforce continuity, not inject chaos
into the process.
Our New York State standards have already improved dramatically over the last six years. In 2010, the
Fordham Institute produced reviews of both New Yorks previous education standards and of the
Common Core State Standards (CCSS). While New Yorks previous standards were given grades of B in
math and C in English Language Arts (ELA), the CCSS were given respective grades of A- and B+.
The Fordham researchers determined the CCSS are clearer than New Yorks previous standards, and
offered more appropriate content and rigor to better prepare students for life after high school.
Likewise, Fordham concluded that the Massachusetts State Standards, long hailed in New York as the
nations highest and a model for our own, were comparable with Common Core and even found to be
lacking in certain key areas.
Specifically, New Yorks old standards were criticized for burying much of the essential K-12 ELA content
among non-essential standards more focused on instructional strategies than on student outcomes

and for using vaguely worded standards. While its math standards were generally stronger, scoring a
grade higher than ELA, its weakness lay in the failure to properly develop arithmetic, a core skill.
As New York transitioned away from its old state standards to more closely align with Common Core, we
saw test scores initially drop as students were asked to achieve more and as teachers adjusted to the
new materials. But we were also able to close the honesty gap, with our new assessments better
indicating students proficiency levels and preparedness for higher education. This was an important
step toward having standards we can believe in. Now, years later, weve seen critical reforms to the
assessments and, more importantly, have watched teachers and students learn what to expect, and the
ways in which they can serve as smart strategies for student learning. Accordingly, test scores and
graduation rates have begun to rise and student outcomes are improving across much of the state.
We sincerely hope you will support high standards and the work of the standards committees this fall.
There are undoubtedly still ways New York State Standards can improve, but we also recognize that
continuity is extremely important to the teachers, students, and families that are all working together to
do whats best for their children. Please do not pull the rug out from under them and go back to inferior
standards. Lets move forward and continue to improve.
Thank you very much for your time and attention to this important matter.
The Coalition of High Achievement New York

Organizations include:
New York Urban League
Bethlehem Central Parents for Excellent Schools
Buffalo Urban League
Business Council of New York State
Business Council of Westchester
Rochester Business Alliance
Rochester Urban League
Council for a Strong America
Educators 4 Excellence
National Council of La Raza
Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council
New York Educator Voice

Educators include:
Deb Mabey (Capitol Region)
Teresa Ranieri (Bronx)
Kim Hardwick (Long Island)
Amanda Zullo (North Country)
Ann Rose Santoro (Hudson Valley)
Petria May (Brooklyn)
Angela Stockman (Western New York)
Jennifer Steimle (Capitol Region)
Robert Messia (Capitol Region)
Arthur Everett (Brooklyn)
Luciano D'Orazio (NYC)
Rachel Rourke (Capitol Region)
Nikkita McPherson (NYC)
Jeff Smink (Parent)