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PA Core (Common Core) FAQ Resource

by Randy Ziegenfuss on June 25, 2014

pacore_standardsAt the final Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council (SPAC) meeting of the school year, a period of time was devoted to questions from parents around the new PA Core standards. There were many good questions and the opportunity to provide clarification to help parents best understand the concept and the accompanying changes, particularly in Mathematics and English/Language Arts (ELA). Recently, NPR published an article, The Common Core FAQ, focused on the Common Core. We discussed many of these questions at the SPAC meeting, but this particular resource is valuable for all parents. (Note: In Pennsylvania, our standards are referred to as PA Core Standards. While there are some slight differences between PA Core Standards and the Common Core State Standards, the various sets of standards are essentially the same.)

Here is a comprehensive listing of the questions addressed in the article, The Common Core FAQ:

  1. What is the Common Core?
  2. OK, so what is the relationship between the Common Core and my kids’ math homework?
  3. Why do we need the Common Core?
  4. Where did the Common Core come from? Who is behind it?
  5. You didn’t mention the federal government. What was its role in creating the standards?
  6. What do “standards” mean? Are they the same as curricula?
  7. What are the standards replacing?
  8. Are the Common Core standards harder than my state’s old standards?
  9. Do other countries do this?
  10. What do the standards mean for math?
  11. What do the standards mean for English?
  12. What’s an “informational text”?
  13. How are Common Core standards affecting state tests?
  14. What is the “assessment cliff”?
  15. How is Common Core affecting my kids’ school (teachers, districts)?
  16. Who is for the Common Core standards? Who is against them?
  17. What happened in Indiana?
  18. What other states have dropped the Common Core?
  19. Is the Common Core by any other name still the Common Core?
  20. What is the difference between “Common Core” and “Common Core-aligned”?
  21. Who is making money from the Common Core?
  22. Do the standards require schools to collect data on their students?
  23. Opponents of the Common Core argue that it tells teachers what to each. Is this true?
  24. How do teachers unions feel about the Common Core?
  25. How will we know if all of this is working?

Salisbury Township School District teachers and administrators have received professional development on many aspects of the PA Core Standards, including shifts in teaching practices, and have been working over the past few years to align curricula to the Standards.

  • Mathematics Curriculum Documents – Grade 6-12 – Developed by teachers and approved by the school board.
  • English/Language Arts Curriculum Documents – Grades 6-12 – Developed by teachers with anticipated board approval in September 2014.
  • enVisions Math Series – Grades K-5 – Piloted in 2013-14; fully implemented in 2014-15.
  • English/Language Arts Curriculum – Grades K-5 – Adjusting the current ELA series, Storytown, to align with PA Core Standards will be a focus for 2014-15.
  • As curricula in other areas are updated or rewritten, PA Core Standards are integrated throughout, as appropriate, particularly in the areas of reading and writing.

Learn more about PA Core by visiting an earlier post on this site, Common Core State Standards and Parents. What further questions do you have about PA Core Standards? Leave them in the comment section below!

Common Core State Standards and Parents

by Randy Ziegenfuss on March 1, 2013

Common Core State StandardsThis post is written specifically to communicate with parents. With or without CCSS, parents have always been an integral part of a child’s education. As our schools transition toward a K-12 curriculum in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics based on CCSS, the role of parents remains critical. This post provides parents with a brief overview of CCSS and links to grade-level guides to download.

You may have heard in the news or from your child’s teacher or principal about the CCSS coming to Pennsylvania, including Salisbury Township School District. You may also have asked yourself questions such as

  • What are the CCSS?
  • How are they different from what my child is currently learning?

The new standards are complex, but here are a several ideas at the foundation of the standards in both ELA and math:

  • The standards define the knowledge and skills students will need for success in college and career.
  • The standards have been adopted by almost all states, including Pennsylvania. Hence the use of the word “common.”
  • The standards require a high level of cognitive rigor from learners, focusing on such concepts as reasoning, justification, synthesis, analysis and problem solving.

Here is a 3-minute video explaining how the CCSS will help your child achieve at high levels and help them learn what they need to know to get to graduation and beyond.



The Council of the Great City Schools has developed grade-level specific parent guides. These are excellent resources to help you better understand what your child will be learning in a CCSS classroom. Click on the link below to choose a guide. (Clicking on the link will take you to the Great City Schools web site. Scroll down to find the specific grade-level guide you are looking for.)

What are your first impressions of the CCSS? What questions do you have? Leave your thoughts in the comment to this post.


Summer Learning in Salisbury Township School District

September 11, 2013

In the Spring of 2013, all district employees had the opportunity to complete a professional development needs survey.  Teachers, administrators, instructional assistants, custodians, psychologists/counselors, nurses/nurses’ assistants, and secretaries/office support personnel completed the survey and identified professional development needs.  The data from  from the survey was analyzed prior to planning the Summer Academy. During this year’s […]

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Bucks-Lehigh EduSummit Engages Educators in Eastern PA

August 17, 2013

On August 13 and 14, educators across Eastern PA, mostly from Lehigh and Bucks counties, gathered at Southern Lehigh High School for the Bucks-Lehigh EduSummit to share and learn about technology and instructional practices. Salisbury was well represented among the conference organizers, presenters and attendees. Check out the conversation on Twitter at the hashtag #bles13. […]

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SAS…More than PA Standards!

August 4, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has developed a comprehensive researched-based resource to improve student achievement called the Standards-Aligned System (SAS), available at  The site is publicly accessible, but provides additional resources to users such as teachers when they log in. To browse the PA Standards in traditional content areas, click on the Standards tab […]

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The Power of Partnerships: BLES EduSummit 2013 for Educators

August 2, 2013

The Quakertown Community School District, Palisades School District, Pennridge School District, Salisbury Township School District, and Southern Lehigh School District have been working over the past several months on plans for the Bucks Lehigh EduSummit 2013 to be held August 13-14 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Southern Lehigh High School.  This collaboratively organized […]

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