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Franklin Regional officials prepare for Common Core standards

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While Pennsylvania legislators have delayed the planned July 1 implementation of a nationwide set of educational standards, Franklin Regional officials are continuing to prepare to adhere to the Common Core State Standards.

Superintendent Jamie Piraino said the changes won't be that drastic and called the new standards comparable to the current Pennsylvania academic standards.

“The standards aren't that different from what we have now,” Piraino said. “Standard by standard, the state is committed to the concept.”

Pennsylvania is one of 45 states across the country to adopt the standards, which dictate what concepts should be mastered by students at each grade level in individual subjects. Piraino said he has received several phone calls and emails from parents concerned about the proposed changes.

Last month, Gov. Tom Corbett directed the state department of education to recommend “minor” changes to the Pennsylvania Common Core standards and Keystone Exams to address concerns from the public and legislators, said Tim Eller, spokesman for the department of education. The proposed changes involve the implementation of the standards and exams.

The rationale behind implementing the Common Core standards is to ensure that all public school students are receiving the same quality of education, Eller said.

“Academic standards and state assessments are an important component of the state's effort to ensure that Pennsylvania students are prepared to pursue postsecondary degrees or careers after graduation,” Eller said. “To give certainty to school districts and Pennsylvania teachers, the governor has asked that modified regulations be reviewed in an expedited manner by all entities involved in the regulatory review process in order to have these regulations in place as soon as possible.”

District officials across the state have been encouraged to continue planning for the implementation of the standards, Eller said. Franklin Regional officials are doing just that, Piraino said.

Piraino also assured residents and board members that Pennsylvania is not one of the nine states participating in a pilot program of inBloom data-management software. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, inBloom is a nonprofit group providing technology services to create a data bank of student information, including past academic performance. The bank is designed to help teachers in states where the Common Core curriculum has been implemented find resources to match with their students needs. The information collected is shared with vendors, Piraino said.

Critics of that system oppose the sharing of information with vendors and worry about potential privacy issues.

Franklin Regional, like all 500 throughout Pennsylvania, supplies information to the state through he Pennsylvania Information Management System, or PIMS. The district is required to submit student information, such as name, grade, gender, economic status and race through the system.

That information is used internally, Piraino said, particularly in determining whether individual subgroups meet state standards on standardized tests.

“We do not share that information,” Piraino said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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