The Pennsylvania Department of Education clears up some misconceptions:
Myth: "Race To The Top grants and other federal funds forced states to adopt Common Core"
Fact: Federal education funding for certain programs has for many years, under several presidential administrations, included high-quality academic standards.
However, federal law does not mandate specific standards and curriculum to be used. This has always been a sole responsibility of state and local education officials.
Myth:"Common Core brings down state standards"
Fact: Common Core was a state-led initiative to improve standards across the country and is considered by educational experts to improve rigor in schools. In 2010, the State Board of Education commissioned an alignment study (conducted by the University of Pittsburgh) that found the recommended Common Core standards were highly correlated to math and English standards revisions the board was already considering.
This alignment study helped to assure the recommended Common Core standards were rigorous and similar to standards revisions being developed independently by Pennsylvania educators.
It is also very important to stress that Common Core is a baseline model for standards and Pennsylvania adopted standards above the recommended model. States reserve the right to create standards as they feel best for their students; any state can exceed the baseline set in the model standards if they choose.
Myth: "No educators were involved in writing the standards"
Fact: The model Common Core standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. In addition, the effort was coordinated by the CCSSO, which represents every state's chief education official.
Once the model Common Core standards were finalized, every state had to then consider these standards through their own internal legislative and regulatory process, which included input from educators, administrators and other experts in each state.
In addition, prior to adopting the Common Core in July of 2010, the State Board of Education held four public meetings across the Commonwealth to provide an opportunity for educators and parents to have input into the standards. Pennsylvania worked with teachers from across the Commonwealth since 2010 to modify the suggested standards to further meet the rigor our students need to attain in order to be successful.
Myth: "Teachers are being required to sign a nondisclosure form because of Common Core"
Fact: Common Core is not making Pennsylvania teachers sign a nondisclosure form. If any teachers in any districts are being asked to sign such a form, it is not a result of Common Core.
The state has increased testing security measures as a result of the cheating investigations that have occurred across the state and educators who administer state assessments do have to sign forms assuring the security of the tests being administered, but these improvements in test security have no relation to Common Core.