Common Core, which Pennsylvania did some revisions too and adopted the PA Core Standards, are a set of standards designed to be cohesive and rigorous for students in grades K-12. Their purpose is to prepare students for college and career and beyond. Today’s students face incredible competition globally and need to be as marketable and prepared as possible. Will these standards give our students what they need to be successful in a global marketplace? Time will let us know if these set of standards will do a better job preparing students. In the meantime we still are required to give a state assessment. The standards are what we teach and the state assessment is how we measure students’ growth and achievement of those standards. Since the adoption on July 2, 2010, districts have been working to adjust and realign their curriculum to meet the PA Core standards. In addition, the state has been working to align the testing items to the standards. As we finish out the second full year of PA Core standards and standards aligned state assessments, many parents wonder if it is worth it for their child to go through the testing.
In Pennsylvania there are a growing number of parents concerned about the amount of standardized testing and testing in general that students must endure. Several websites have popped up to help parents navigate the process to opt-out and districts have put into place protocols to help with the process. One thing we have learned over the past two years in our district is that parents have a lot of great questions about standards, curriculum and testing. We have met with moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles who all share the concern about over testing and under-educating their student. Funding is another question that comes up and some parents feel as if they can make a statement about linking testing results to school funding by opting out of the tests. One of my jobs as superintendent is to give the community as much information as possible on many different topics. I would like to invite all of you to attend a common core night in early September where we will share the standards, curriculum, resources and data that are used in the district. I will also share information about PSSA and Keystones and how we use that data and what we do during the testing weeks to ease the stress.
In the meantime a few facts about PSSA and Keystone:
- There are testing windows which include many more days than we actually test.
- Students can have as much time as they need to finish up sections of the test.
- The district has very strict rules and protocols that we need to follow from the state. The state has these in place in order to follow the guideline from the federal mandates. All of the rules ensure that we get an accurate measure of proficiency on the assessments.
- We do not give homework during the tests and we do not give any other major tests or assignments, but we do continue teaching.
- The teachers and other staff in this district are parents as well and we all understand the stress of the tests. We realize the amount of time it takes does take away from other educational activities. We have spent time talking with state officials to express our concern over the amount of testing.
I hope that you will join us for the information session. Below are some links to resources to help with the discussion.
Article about Philly Schools
Opt out procedures
Common Core Info