States struggle to fund stricter school curriculum: study

Reuters News
|
Posted: Aug 07, 2013 4:49 PM
States struggle to fund stricter school curriculum: study

By Francesca Trianni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - States that have adopted a stricter, standardized schools curriculum are having difficulty finding the resources to support the more rigorous requirements, a study released on Wednesday shows.

Of the 40 states that adopted the Common Core State Standards, 34 reported trouble finding adequate funding to support the stringent activities the curriculum entails, said the survey by the Center for Education Policy at George Washington University.

"Finding adequate resources is the main challenge looming over states' efforts to prepare districts, schools, principals and teachers for the Common Core," said Diane Stark Rentner, deputy director of national programs for CEP and author of the study.

Nearly all the states that adopted Common Core, an initiative that is designed to lead to national standardized English and math tests for Kindergarten through 12th grade, are complying with the curriculum, the study found.

However, the stringent standards are having an impact. In New York City, students have seen their math and reading test scores drop dramatically since schools adopted a strict standardized curriculum this year, according to results also released on Wednesday.

This year, 26 percent of New York City students between the third and eighth grades passed the exams in English and 30 percent passed in math, according to the state Education Department. Last year, under different and easier testing, 47 percent passed in English and 60 percent in math.

State Education Commissioner John King said the proficiency scores do not reflect a drop in performance but rather a raising of standards.

"I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers, and principals. It's frustrating to see our children struggle," King said in a statement. "But we can't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by frustration; we must be energized by this opportunity."

In New York City, the tests are used to evaluate teachers, determine if pupils can pass to the next grade and evaluate schools' performance. While the drop in scores was largely expected, union officials have voiced concern that teachers will be held to the higher standards before they have had time to teach the new curriculum adequately.

(Reporting by Francesca Trianni; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)