New York State took a major step toward implementing the Common Core State Standards this spring with new assessments designed to better measure critical thinking and problem solving. While the new tests certainly leave room for improvement, the new assessments are an important milestone in the shift towards pushing teachers to assign more cognitively challenging and engaging work.
This has been a long time coming.
Seven years ago, Mayor Bloomberg, writing in the Washington Post at the inception of New York City's accountability system, argued that it was critical for states across the country to set a higher standard and align expectations more closely to the rigorous National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
As we continue to translate the promise of these new standards into deep changes in what and how we teach, it's critical that we also reflect on what we've learned and consider ways to strengthen the system that is currently in place.
Our accountability system in New York City was designed to promote equity and strengthen the quality of our schools. It was crafted to push schools to make the right instructional decisions for all students and to inform the supports, interventions, and rewards provided to schools. This system is rooted in four core principles:
1. Schools are compared to other schools serving similar students, providing a fair sense of what schools can achieve;
2. Schools’ contribution to student learning is the primary emphasis—we use multiple measures that look at both absolute performance and growth,...