In 2010, voluntary model standards were developed in math and English by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that became known as the Common Core State Standards. The motivation behind this project was a need, articulated by the business community, for more rigorous academic standards to produce high school graduates who were immediately ready for college or the workforce. Over the last two years, Pennsylvania is one of several states to use the Common Core State Standards as a guide to the adoption of a revised set of math and reading standards tailored to Pennsylvania’s specific educational needs. Public school districts across the Commonwealth will be accountable to the new “Pennsylvania Core Standards” beginning in the 2014-15 school year. As with the original PA Academic Standards, it will be at the discretion of the local districts to determine the day-to-day curriculum and the instructional tools that teachers use to assist students in meeting the new standards.
Here in the Tyrone Area School District, administrators and teachers have been working diligently to make the transition to the new PA Core Standards. Staff is working to realign the Mathematics and English Language Arts curricula, in addition to ensuring that the tasks and assignments utilized in the classrooms address the shifts in teaching and learning in ALL content areas. In English Language Arts and other core subject areas (ex. Science and Social Studies), an emphasis on building knowledge through content-rich informational text, reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text, and regular practice with complex text and academic vocabulary highlight the major shifts in the PA Core Standards. In Mathematics, a more narrow focus and deep understanding of concepts, along with real-world application, is emphasized. Students are encouraged to persevere and attend to precision in solving mathematical problems, as well as construct arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
The staff and students of the Tyrone Area School District are up for the challenge of the new standards and look forward to the coming months as they re-examine current materials and practices.