Pennsylvania was one of the first Common Core adopters back in 2010 but since has faced its share of challenges, namely with implementation. Though originally promised to be ready by 2013, the Governor, Tim Corbett, asked for and received an extension when he found that state lawmakers were very much split on whether the standards should be used or not. This eventually passed and the Pennsylvania Core Standards came into effect.
Following this debate, the state then moved on to discussing its participation in the Core-based assessment test known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). After much debate, the state dropped itself from the program in 2014, citing that it would create its own statewide test to determine how students were doing with the new Core curriculum. Since then, debate has remained steady but tends to rear its head during times of trial.
More recently, the release of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test scores has riled up the public once more even though the educators are doing their best to assuage any fears that the Common Core is entirely evil.
In late 2015, the year’s PSSA scores came to light, showing that virtually all grades and all subjects had dropped significantly. That being said, the education department was quick to issue notifications and statements citing the fact that the test had changed. In fact, the test had become harder because of the standards set forth by the more challenging Core. It was a drop they were all expecting and a drop that has been seen across the country.
While parents became flustered that a challenge was given to their children, the biggest worries came from the teachers themselves. In Pennsylvania’s current system, teachers are judged based on their students’ test scores. Such a drop, of course, would negatively affect their own ratings. Luckily, the state has taken this into consideration and wasted no time in suspending score and teacher correlations. Some are even pushing for a two year reprieve as classrooms become fully acclimated to the new educational standards. In addition, the once-held belief that these scores should be used to determine if students should graduate in 2017 has been called into question with lawmakers wanting to extend that to 2019.
Pennsylvania has remained a relatively pro-Core state. Though there are groups of parents fighting to get it taken down, the vast majority of educators and involved parents see the Core as a challenge their students can face. Even in light of the currently upsetting drop in test scores, educators understand that all they need is more time to adapt their teaching methods for that of success in the current climate. In short, the Core will stay but its use to measure student and teacher achievement will be delayed.