State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Agency expects few changes to Common Core standards, even with delay

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 21, 2013 10:59 PM

The governor has ordered a delay in the adoption of new high stakes standardized tests for public schools.

The new Pennsylvania Common Core standards were supposed to be implemented in July, and would require the class of 2017 to pass subject-specific tests or complete relevant projects before graduating.

Still, state Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said the postponement isn't expected to result in any major changes to that overall plan. "Even with a short delay, we are confident that this will be in place before... students return to the classroom in the upcoming school year, so there will be no disruptions," he said.

It appears to be a governor-mandated cooling-off period. Pennsylvania Common Core has been taking heat from all sides. Recent hearings brought conservative groups to the Capitol to protest such standards saying they would undermine local control. Democrats called for a moratorium to Common Core, saying schools shouldn't be held to higher standards without getting more resources. They also took issue with the proposal to make students' graduation contingent on test performance.

The substance of the proposed standards isn't likely to change, even with those grievances.

"I think what you're going to see is that this is going to be more of a communication, more of a dialogue," said Eller. The idea of having standards - state academic standards - in Pennsylvania schools is not a novel concept."

Eller added a national pushback against the national model for Common Core educational standards has contributed to the controversy in the commonwealth, despite the fact that the national model is not being used in Pennsylvania.

"I think some of the criticism or some of the concerns or fears about the Pennsylvania Common Core and the regulatory package that is pending are hyped up, if you will, because of the national Common Core issue," said Eller.


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