Central Bucks District well prepared for state's Common Core Standards
Dana M. Eckman
Local school districts are pressing on with work to incorporate the new Pennsylvania Common Core Standards into classrooms despite the state’s postponing its effective date and holding hearings to review the changes.
The proposed new educational standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics describe what students should know and be able to do in those subjects at each grade level. As a result, school districts must adjust their curricula to make sure students are provided with the necessary instruction to help them reach those goals.
In the Central Bucks School District, curriculum is adjusted as part of a regular review processes. Now these adjustments match what is necessary to align with the new Pennsylvania Common Core Standards so the district has not been rushing to make revisions as is evident in some other districts. Training to help teachers with their classroom practice has also been provided along the way.
The district has incorporated Pennsylvania Core Standards into its K-12 English Language Arts and math curricula.
Acting Superintendent David Weitzel said during a presentation at the Sept. 10 school board meeting, the district worked to include the new Common Core standards into its preparation over the past several years. He said that over the summer, teachers had received more than 50 hours of professional development training.
Alyssa Walloff, supervisor for K-12 English Language Arts, said the district has been working on a new approach to its curriculum since 2007 when it began implementing Willard Daggett’s Rigor/Relevance framework and the Understanding by Design philosophy created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.
Weitzel said the new standards have benchmarks for student learning at each grade level, rather than at specified grade levels, such as third, fifth and eighth grades under the current system written in 1999.
Board member John Gamble said he was glad the district was so well prepared for the new standards. He said he had seen concerns that other states’ test scores had dropped after implementing the standards without the same preparation.
“Through your hard work we are already there, I want to thank you for being ahead of the majority of the nation on this,” he said.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The effort, according to those groups, was to make sure students around the country were leaving high school prepared for college, the workforce or the military.
It was up to states to adopt the standards. The federal government cannot mandate a set of standards, but has supported the Common Core and offered incentives to states that have adopted them.
Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, then later added to them to create the Pennsylvania Common Core, setting out standards in English and math. The state Board of Education gave final approval this month.
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