September 18, 2014

Gov. Corbett calls for continued public review of state academic standards

Just a year after praising the passage of Pennsylvania Core Standards, the state's adaptation of national Common Core academic standards, Gov. Tom Corbett issued a Sept. 7 press release calling for "continued public review" of English-language arts and math standards in elementary and secondary schools.

The announcement leaves school administrators and educators scrambling to determine next steps, now that Gov. Corbett appears to be backing away from his administration's own policy.

Pennsylvania Core Standards are currently being implemented by school districts across the state. In many cases, the realignment of curriculum, lessons, and other materials costs school districts significant time and money. This year, the state's Keystone Exams and PSSA exams will be based on the new standards.

“If Gov. Corbett's plan is to cause confusion and chaos in the public schools, he's succeeded," said PSEA President Mike Crossey." Suddenly, he is opposed to the PA Core Standards his administration spent three years developing and that educators have spent years planning to implement."

Creation of the Pennsylvania Core Standards has created challenges and confusion across the state. Many school districts had already started to implement Common Core Standards passed by the State Board of Education in 2010, revising curricula and purchasing new textbooks, when the State Board approved the new standards last year. 

Pennsylvania school districts, still reeling from the governor's nearly $1 billion in cuts to public schools in 2011, have invested substantial resources to realign to the new standards.

Now, the governor wants the State Board of Education to consider even more changes.

"Schools are supposed to align their curriculum to these standards, teachers are supposed to deliver instruction based on these standards, and the tests we use to assess our students' performance are supposed to be based on these standards," said Crossey.

“The governor's plan will disrupt all of this work, confuse parents and educators, and hurt Pennsylvania's students.”

The Corbett administration adapted the PA Core Standards for English-language arts and math from the national Common Core. A spokesman for the administration noted that Gov. Corbett's call for a public review was not intended to overturn the PA Core Standards. However, a statement from the Corbett re-election campaign added to the confusion by trumpeting Gov. Corbett's "support for the complete elimination of Common Core in Pennsylvania."

The State Board of Education heard a report on the governor's call for more public review at its meeting on Sept. 10 and 11. 

Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said that the state's current “eligible content” related to the PA Core Standards will be posted on a website where the public can provide specific comments about which aspects of the eligible content are working and which need to change. She stated that the website will go live in stages, posting 3rd grade eligible content by Oct. 15 and posting all eligible content by Nov. 15. 

Learn more about the current PA Core Standards here.




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