Better standards

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I disagree with Cheryl Boise's June 4 letter, "Devilish Details," in which she questioned statements I made on behalf of the state Education Department. It is accurate to say that, if the proposed changes to Pennsylvania's academic standards are not adopted, the national Common Core standards will take effect across the commonwealth on July 1.

In July 2010, under then-Gov. Ed Rendell, the state Board of Education adopted the national Common Core standards in total, no changes whatsoever.

In 2011, after Gov. Tom Corbett took office, he directed the Department of Education to work with the state board to move Pennsylvania away from the national Common Core and implement standards that are in the best interest of Pennsylvania students, not based solely on a national model.

The goal is to have these new standards in place before the national Common Core kicks in.

In 2011 and 2012, the department and the state board convened a committee of Pennsylvania educators, from K-12 and higher education, to compare the national Common Core to Pennsylvania's academic standards that were initially adopted in 1999. What the committee found is that, in many content areas, Pennsylvania's academic standards were equally or more rigorous than the national Common Core. As a result, where Pennsylvania's standards were better than the national Common Core, Pennsylvania's standards remained in place. Where the Common Core was more rigorous, Pennsylvania's standards were updated.

What became the final product is Pennsylvania-specific academic standards, designed by Pennsylvania educators.

Gov. Corbett remains focused on ensuring that all Pennsylvania public school students have access to a quality education and supports raising the academic bar to ensure our children become successful adults.

TIM ELLER
Press Secretary
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Harrisburg


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