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Pennsylvania's public school students, as well as parents and taxpayers, will benefit from stronger academic standards and assessments that are set to be formally enacted tomorrow.

The Pennsylvania Core Standards and assessments, including the Keystone Exams, aligned to those high standards will be in effect upon their publication in the March 1 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

"These strong academic standards and quality assessments will help ensure our graduates are truly prepared for the challenges they will face beyond high school," Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso said. "The standards were designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need to compete and succeed in college and careers, regardless of which school district awards them a diploma."

Benso noted PPC has worked with policymakers, education leaders and other interested stakeholders for more than eight years to strengthen the commonwealth's standards and assessments.

"We fought hard for these new standards and assessments because we urgently need to solve a troubling problem: Each year, Pennsylvania's schools are handing out diplomas to students who fail to show proficiency in math and reading," Benso said. "As a result, students who continue their education and training beyond high school many times need costly remedial coursework, and business and military leaders often lament the lack of preparedness of our high school graduates."

The Pennsylvania Core Standards outline what students should know at each grade level. The Keystone Exams, which are aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards, have several advantages over the 11th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests they will replace, including being administered closer to the point of instruction, when subject content is fresher and more relevant in a student's mind. The new regulations also provide for supplemental instruction for students who don't pass a Keystone Exam, as well as opportunities to retake a Keystone Exam or a portion of it.

The Pennsylvania Core Standards and Keystone Exams are among several improvements made to public education in Pennsylvania in recent years. Another significant improvement was the enactment of a new educator evaluation system in the 2013-14 school year that will provide teachers and other professional educators the constructive feedback, support and targeted resources they need to improve so they can help students achieve.

"Taken together, these classroom-focused improvements are part of the 'big picture' effort to change the way students learn, the way teachers educate and the way our schools measure student success and award diplomas," Benso said.

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Monica Ciotti
  March 1, 2014 11:11am

In the first quote I was perplexed to see the admittance of Joan Benso that PA schools annually are "hand(ing) out diplomas to students who fail...." I have my doubts about more and more requirements and testing of children and hope that administrators begin to allow teachers to present coursework geared to the interests of the children instead of the interests of global competition. WE need to teach in faith!
William Stockwell
  April 18, 2014 9:13pm

My question is a fundamental one…why are we graduating seniors that in your words...Each year, Pennsylvania's schools are handing out diplomas to students who fail to show proficiency in math and reading," Benso said. "As a result, students who continue their education and training beyond high school many times need costly remedial coursework, and business and military leaders often lament the lack of preparedness of our high school graduates." I don't understand this. How did they get this far w/out show proficiency in basic subjects? How in the world did we let this condition continue? Where were/are the administrators/teachers/parents? Who is responsible? (The answer to this question cannot blame individuals…assessments must be put against teachers, administrators,
William Stockwell
  April 18, 2014 9:22pm

A continuation…I didn't know there was a limit to the length of comments. To add to the responsibility statement…unions may not have the license to demand smaller class sizes