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Pennsylvania’s stops and starts over new classroom standards

Submitted by thenotebook on Fri, 10/18/2013 - 11:32 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Sara Neufeld, The Hechinger Report

In the beginning, Pennsylvania was going to be like most other states, following a new set of national education standards and administering new national standardized tests.

But a lot has happened since 2010, when the state signed on to participate in what’s known as Common Core, an initiative designed to make the United States more globally competitive by ensuring students’ ability to meet basic benchmarks.

A Democratic administration turned Republican, and Gov. Tom Corbett took seriously conservatives concerned about the federal government infringing on states’ rights. In March 2012, Pennsylvania officials released their own document, known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards, which they call a hybrid between the national Common Core and the state’s own guidelines.

Pencils Down: It's time to rethink tests

Submitted by Samuel Reed III on Tue, 10/30/2012 - 13:44 Posted in Social justice in education | Permalink

How reliable are tests in measuring what really matters for 21st-century learning? And should high-stakes tests really be used as a punitive evaluation of teacher quality? With all the controversy surrounding standardized tests and cheating, it’s time for teachers, parents, districts and policymakers to consider alternatives.

Navigating the digital world

by Wendy Harris Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink
As a result of the big changes underway in the School District, teachers will soon be given more freedom to be creative. As part of our April print edition, the Notebook and NewsWorks took a multimedia look inside the classrooms of five exemplary Philadelphia teachers to get an on-the-ground perspectives of the great teaching and learning that is possible.

South Philadelphia senior Marcus Johnson stands at the front of his classroom eager to give his presentation on mammals. But there are no poster board cutouts here, no sketches across a blackboard, no pages borrowed from an animal encyclopedia. Johnson, with his back to a class that has iMacs and iPads, works the keys on his laptop computer with the focus of an engineer in a computer lab. After a few clicks, he turns to face his peers, and the website he designed – which gives vivid images and rich content about the animals he loves so much – fills the interactive projector at the front of the room.

Video: Kimberly Paynter for WHYY/NewsWorks

Lessons from teachers

Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink

Ask any teacher, whether at a neighborhood, magnet, or charter school, and most would agree that to keep students engaged and create meaningful learning, they need some autonomy – some room to be creative.

Riding the waves of curriculum change

by Bill Hangley, Jr. Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink

Marilynn Holmes has taught 1st grade at Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary in West Kensington since 1968. A native of a coal-mining "company town" near Pittsburgh and a graduate of what was then known as Cheyney State College, she's been a first-hand witness to 40 years of curriculum changes.

Holmes works at a school that has been targeted for closure due to its low enrollment and aging facilities, but she is quick to laugh about all the challenges she's faced. She worries less about the specifics of the District's curriculum than she does about its dwindling resources.

Here are the highlights of our conversation with Holmes, who talked about the changes she's seen and the advice she'd offer the next superintendent.

Reorganization is underway

by Dale Mezzacappa Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink

Working with Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon to develop a new organizational blueprint for the School District, seven “academic design subcommittees” have been meeting since February.

Curriculum development: This committee is expected to develop a pre-K to 12 curriculum with outcomes for each grade level that are aligned to college and career program goals and the new Common Core State Standards.

Working on a new blueprint for schools she grew up in

by Dale Mezzacappa Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink

Penny Nixon fondly remembers Ms. Newman, her 12th grade teacher at Martin Luther King High School nearly 30 years ago.

"We wrote about almost everything in Ms. Newman's class," said Nixon. "We wrote about issues that impacted our lives, just being a teenager – around peer pressure, around drugs and alcohol."

What is the Common Core?

Posted in April 2012 Edition | Permalink

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to define what all students need to know and do in order to be college and career-ready when they graduate. According to the official web site, they "include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills," they are "informed by other top performing countries," and they are "evidence-based."



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