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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Revision of the 2002 Academic Standards for Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology

1.    What standards are the Pennsylvania State Board of Education revising?

The Pennsylvania State Board of Education is proposing to revise the Academic Standards for Science and Technology and the Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology. These standards serve as the baseline for revisions as they reflect the academic standards adopted by the Board in 2002 as part of 22 Pa. Code Chapter 4. The State Board directed the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to initiate a review of these standards in September of 2019.

2.    Where can I find more about the draft standards (proposed regulation)? 

Additional information is located under the Current Initiatives tab at the Pennsylvania State Board of Education or at

3.    What is the process and timeline for revising the 2002 Academic Standards for Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology?

State academic standards are part of the State Board of Education's regulations. There is a two-stage process for revising these regulations. First, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) reviews the State Board's proposed regulation and any accompanying comments from the public and the General Assembly, and issues formal comments when necessary. Second, IRRC reviews and acts on the final version of the regulation before it is published as a final rule.

The state academic standards are in the first-stage of the regulatory process. Below is an overview of the process and status to date.

September 2019: Launch. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education directed the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to review and develop recommendations for updating the Academic Standards for Science and Technology (2002) and the Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology (2002).

November 2019-January 2020: Planning. PDE and American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted a research review and planned a stakeholder engagement process.

February-March 2020: Stakeholder input. A total of 951 stakeholders, representing educators, administrators, families, students, business and industry, and other groups, attended 14 stakeholder sessions across the state in-person and virtually. More than 600 stakeholders responded to an online survey.

March-May 2020: Committee formation. PDE used an application process to identify experts for the Content and Steering committees charged with reviewing the current standards and recommending revisions to the State Board. The State Board approved the committee members at its May 6, 2020 meeting.

May 2020: Landscape report. AIR published the Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology Standards: A National Landscape Scan and Pennsylvania Stakeholder Feedback Report. This "landscape report" summarized the stakeholder input garnered in February and March 2020; provided a scan of other states' standards; and presented current research around science, technology and engineering, and environmental education standards.

June-July 2020: Committee meetings. The Content Committee and Steering Committee held nine full-day virtual sessions to consider research and stakeholder input, review existing standards, and craft recommendations for the revised standards.

July-August 2020: Drafting standards. After the  Content Committee and Steering Committee established recommendations and anchor standards, a Writing Committee, comprised of existing committee members, developed draft recommended standards in the form of performance expectations. Performance expectations are assessable statements of what students should know and be able to do. 

September 2020: State Board vote. PDE presented draft standards recommendations to the State Board along with the following three separate reports outlining the process and data sources used to design the draft recommended standards:

The State Board of Education unanimously adopted all three recommendations as a proposed regulation. The proposed standards are labeled as Appendix B - 1 on the State Board website.

October-May 2021: Legal and Executive Review. The Office of General Counsel, Governor's Office of Policy and Planning, and Governor's Budget Office reviewed the proposed standards, followed by the Office of Attorney General.  

Next steps and tentative timeline:

  • June/July 2021: Public Comment. The proposed regulation is shared with the House and Senate Education Committees and IRRC, and is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The public has 30 days to submit comments to the State Board, beginning June 3, 2021. IRRC will have 30 days following the close of public comment to submit remarks to the State Board.
  • Late Summer/Fall 2021: Review Public Comment. The State Board will consider feedback received on its proposed regulation during the public comment period and determine whether any further amendments are necessary.
  • November 2021: The State Board will consider adoption of a final regulation at a public meeting. After the State Board votes to adopt a final regulation, the final rulemaking – the second stage of the regulatory process – will begin.

4.    When can the public provide input on the proposed academic standards for science and other amendments to Chapter 4?

A 30-day public comment period is open as of June 5, 2021.

The public has 30 days to submit written comments to the State Board following the June 5, 2021 publication of the proposed regulation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. More detail about the public comment period and where it fits in the sequence of the regulatory process is found on pages 8-9 of the IRRC Regulatory Review Manual.

Comments on the proposed rulemaking may be submitted to the Board in writing at or State Board of Education, 333 Market Street, 1st Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126.

The proposed regulation was informed by public input collected from February through April of 2020 through 14 face-to-face and virtual stakeholder sessions along with a statewide survey. The results of this public engagement were published in Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology Standards: A National Landscape Scan and Pennsylvania Stakeholder Feedback Report.

5.    When will the proposed state academic standards for science be final? 

There is no fixed date for the State Board to adopt a final regulation. You can follow the steps in detail by referring to the IRRC Regulatory Review Process Manual.

6.    What happens to the 2002 Academic Standards for Science & Technology and the 2002 Academic Standards for Environment & Ecology if the proposed updates to the state's science standards are adopted?

Upon adoption by the State Board as a final regulation and approval by IRRC, the 2002 Academic Standards for Science & Technology and 2002 Academic Standards for Environment & Ecology would be supplanted by the revised academic standards.

7.    When will all Pennsylvania public school students begin learning the revised academic standards?

The proposed regulation would require instruction to be fully aligned with the revised standards by the 2024-25 school year. However, the timeline depends upon when the regulation is approved by IRRC and the final regulation is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The goal is to provide schools at least three years to implement the new standards. When the standards are final, the Department will make supports available during this transition period to assist public school entities with standards implementation.