- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - One of the math skills that’s fair game for third-graders on state standardized tests is multiplication tables up to 10 times 10.

Now members of the public have a chance to let the state know whether that - or any other “eligible content” in math or English language arts - is appropriate.

The state Department of Education this week unveiled a new web site, www.paacademicreview.org, which allows comment on what the state says children should know and be able to do. The site opened with third-grade math and English language arts.

By mid-November, the state expects to have available eligible content in English language arts and mathematics for grades 4 to 8 and Algebra I and Literature at the secondary level. This is material that can be tested on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests or Keystone Exams.

The content covered on the website is part of the Pennsylvania Core Standards, which is a Pennsylvania version that grew out of the Common Core State Standards.

The website cost about $250,000 to build, with Team Pennsylvania Foundation paying $215,000 and the department paying the remainder. The contractor was PLS 3rd Learning.

On the site, various statements describing what students should know or be able to do are listed.

Each has a sample test question. With a statement that third-graders should be able to use multiplication and division to solve word problems, the sample states that Kayla has 12 seeds and puts an equal number in each pot. The student must determine how many seeds are in each pot and choose one of four answers: 3 (correct), 8, 16 and 48.

For third-grade English language arts, one of the content statements is: “Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.”

The sample question includes a poem and asks the student to interpret this line: “I’ll watch you, words, rise and dance and spin.” The student is asked what the speaker is doing and given a choice of swimming, reading (correct), running or painting.

Members of the public are asked to indicate whether they “like” the content statement. Those who don’t like the statement can choose from various options, such as saying it should be rewritten or deleted. Once an option is chosen, the person given a chance to explain the answer, such as rewriting the sentence or giving a reason it should be deleted.

In a news release about the new site, acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said, “Gov. Corbett and I are focused on ensuring that students, parents, educators and taxpayers have a comprehensive understanding of what is expected of our students at each grade level.


Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com

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