Pa. likely to accept national math, English standards
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Pennsylvania is committed to adopting the uniform set of national standards for math and English unveiled last week as long as the standards meet two conditions:
The national common core standards must be at least as rigorous as the ones Pennsylvania already has, and there must be a public comment process in the state.
"To the extent they would be very different might raise concerns. All the information we have based on earlier drafts is they will not be dramatically different," said Adam Schott, executive director of the state Board of Education. "Assuming that and a couple of months to let stakeholders give input, the board's plan is to adopt."
The proposed common core standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak is a board member of the council and had some input into the plan.
It's up to states whether they adopt them, but governors and chief state school officers in 51 states, territories, and the District of Columbia are participating in the process. Currently, standards set by each state vary widely.
The national organizations are receiving public comment until April 2. The current version, considered a draft, is available on the web at www.corestandards.org.
The state board has named Pitt professor Suzanne Lane to compare the latest draft of the common core standards with Pennsylvania's existing academic standards in math and reading. Pennsylvania's academic standards can be found at www.pacode.com/secure/data/022/chapter4/s4.83.html.
Dr. Lane will work with a team from Pitt and panels of educators from across the state to evaluate the draft.
Mr. Schott said that report is expected later this spring but involves too much work to be done in time for the public comment period set nationally for the proposed standards.
Once the report is completed, the state board will seek its own public comment, including conducting hearings and roundtables.
Board action is expected in the fall.
Even if the board adopts the common core standards, it will then proceed to get more public comment on whether there should be any state-specific adjustments to them.
Mr. Schott said that some states -- such as Montana, which has its own standards about Native American cultures -- may make adjustments to the common core standards.
At least some of the points made in the common core standards appear to be similar to those already in use in Pennsylvania although each has a different format and some differences as well.
The state math standards cover grades 3, 5, 8 and 11. The common core standards are for each grade level, from kindergarten through high school.
The state English language arts standards are for reading, writing, speaking and listening in each grade from third through 12th. The common core version, which covers each grade from kindergarten through 12th, is called English language arts and literacy in history/social studies and science.
In math, for example, both sets of standards call for third-graders to be able to work with fractions and with numbers up to 10,000. Both put volume in fifth grade, and both list the Pythagorean theorem under eighth grade.
In English language arts, both call for third-graders to know phonics.
On word recognition skills, the common core standards have some specific skills, such as calling on third-graders to be able to decode words with common Latin suffixes, such as those ending in -tion, -ture, -ify, -ity and -ment.
The common core standards also recommend certain literature.
The common core standards around history/social studies and science focus on having the reading and writing skills to understand the material. They do not cover the content students should know about those subjects.
First Published March 15, 2010 12:00 am