Bethel Park schools to implement Common Core State Standards

Published Jun 25, 2013 at 9:01 am (Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 9:01 am)

Bethel Park School District administrators recently gave school board members an overview of the Common Core State Standards.

“Common Core is focused on what you can do,” Janet O’Rourke, director of secondary education, explained to the board.

O’Rourke and Dorothy Stark, director of elementary education, presented a background of Common Core and how the curriculum will be implemented in the district.

According to the district website, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

“Forty-five states, as well as the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. The Pennsylvania Department of Education adopted the Common Core in 2010. Full implementation of the Common Core has been delayed, pending approval by the Pennsylvania Legislature,” according to the website.

Common Core standards will implemented in math and language arts courses, but will extend into other courses. The curriculum covers fewer topics at greater depth, the administrators explained.

In language arts, there will be a focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as a shift to reading more non-fiction.

Math will be more rigorous than previous standards. Students will be expected to acquire conceptional understanding, as well as procedural skills and to both to solve a wide range of real world problems. The students will be reasoning, persevering and using tools constructively.

The standards focus on essential knowledge and skills necessary for students to succeed and are designed to increase student achievement.

Despite the fact that there would be common standards throughout the states which adopt the Common Core, all curriculum decisions will still be made at the local level, the administrators explained.

(“Common Core) is just a set of standards,” Stark explained. “We are going to write our own curriculum. It’s meant to improve the rigor (of the curriculum).

Pennsylvania students will not be taking a national test, the administrators assured board members.

“We are concerned with Bethel Park children,” O’Rourke said. “We want to do right by our community.”

School Board member Jim Means said he was concerned with “the cookie cutter approach.”

“Are these appropriate goals?” he asked. “It just doesn’t make sense to have one set of standards for everyone.”

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