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Common core changes, raises student expectations

Tyler Barry, Paige Mathews, and Vanessa Gil work on an iPad in the academy. Photo by Sarah Harmon.

Common Core is a set state standard for all state schools. The Pennsylvania standards are called “PA Core Standards.” These standards are tested by the Keystone testing.  The goal of the common core standards is to ready students for post-high school careers and additional education.

“When kids leave high school, they’re college and career ready because of this,” literacy coach Julie Storm said.

 “The nation came up with these standards that they believe every kid should leave high school knowing and being able to do. The Keystone Test tests those standards. It tests those kids’ abilities to perform accordingly to those standards,”  Keri Harrington, ninth grade English teacher said.

 The expectations have been raised for students.

“The new Common Core standards have made a dramatic effect. An example for English, what we used to be expected to do in ninth grade, now is an expectation for seventh graders,” Harrington said. “Most of the curriculum that made up the seventh grade curriculum, is now supposed to be happening through the early elementary years. It has been a challenge.”

 “It has made schools and teachers aware that there are some gaps going from different grade levels, so they’re trying to fill those gaps. It is rigorous, so it is more difficult for those students, so they have to be up for the challenge,” Harrington said.

As literacy coaches for the school Harrington and Storm have been preparing for the common core changes for awhile.

“We have been to lots of different workshops, some of them held by representatives of the state (Pennsylvania), some of them held by an instructional coaching mentors,” Harrington said.

Teachers must keep up on the changes and updates happening with the PA Core Standards, “which is a big challenge right now,” Harrington said.

“There was a jump from the way things used to be, and the expectation that the state has for kids now, and there wasn’t a transition period, which I think is what we’re missing,” Herrington said.

“I think that it is a step in the right direction. That transition period has hurt the idea of common core. In a few years, I think those challenges will be a little bit easier and I think people will be more comfortable with it,” Storm said.


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