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News and Speeches

Chancellor Walcott Unveils New Public Awareness Campaign on the Importance of the Common Core


Students in Grades 3-8 Begin to Take New Tougher Exams Aligned to the
Common Core This Week

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced a new city-wide public awareness campaign to help continue to familiarize New Yorkers with the transition to the Common Core Learning Standards and new State exams. The city’s public school classrooms are experiencing a major shift to these new, higher learning standards, which are designed to equip students with the skills they need to succeed in college and careers.

The posters will reach millions of New Yorkers in all five boroughs and will be printed in English and Spanish. They will be placed in 2,000 subway cars across the system as well as all five Staten Island Ferry boats. The public awareness campaign will last for approximately twelve weeks.

In addition, the DOE is premiering a new monthly newspaper insert entitled “Public School Press,” which this month focuses exclusively on the Common Core. The insert appears this week in Metro, the Staten Island Advance, El Diario as well as other community papers.

The outreach coincides with a new phase in the transition to the Common Core, as public school students in grades three through eight begin to take the new, more challenging state tests this week.

Under the new Common Core standards, students are required to write more, think critically and defend their ideas. Instead of sitting in rows answering questions, they work in teams to solve real-world problems.

Unlike the old state tests, which only assessed basic skills, the new exams – which are tailored to the new standards - will evaluate students’ critical thinking skills to ensure they’re on a path to success in college and beyond.

Since the new tests are set to a higher bar, the percentage of students scoring proficient or above will not be comparable to the basic skills tests from years past. The new exams will provide a new and different baseline for measuring student growth.

Since 2010, the city has spent $125 million to train teachers and provide resources for the transition to the Common Core.

“With time and hard work, I have full confidence that our students will rise to the challenge that the standards represent,” Chancellor Walcott said. “A high school diploma is no longer enough to qualify for good jobs in the 21st Century. Our students need to graduate high school with strong writing and problem-solving skills.”

“By every measure, New York City public schools have made great gains over the last 11 years,” said Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky. “The shift to the Common Core learning standards will enhance the academic experience of students and improve their prospects for success in life after high school.”

This public awareness campaign is the latest in a series of outreach initiatives by the DOE intended to acquaint parents, teachers and students with the transition to the Common Core. New York City began that work in 2010, when the new standards were first adopted by the State.

In the spring of 2011, the DOE launched the Common Core Library, an online resource for principals, teachers and parents. It includes more than 60 training modules and assessment tasks at every grade level and subject. Since its launch, nearly 200,000 unique users have taken advantage of the library; some resources have been downloaded thousands of times.

The DOE has sent letters home with each of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students discussing the new standards and exams. The Chancellor has also held two parent webinars about the Common Core, and last month, the DOE website featured a video message about the new standards and the importance of ensuring that our students are college and career ready. Resources have also been shared with principals so that they could explain the changes to parents during parent-teacher conferences.

To learn more about New York City’s transition to the Common Core learning standards, visit NYC.gov and search for “Common Core Parent Resources”.