Dr. Zahorchak is a national education leader focused on common core standards and implementing standards-based education to improve student achievement. He co-chaired the Next Generation Learners Committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers, creating a national framework for building systems of comprehensive support for all students. Under his direction, Pennsylvania has transformed schools, enabling more than three quarters of all students to demonstrate proficiency in reading and mathematics as compared to slightly more than half in 2002. During his tenure, he has presided over unparalleled school funding increases to equalize the adequacy gap and provide funding to those with the greatest need.
A hallmark of Dr. Zahorchak’s distinguished career is the collaborative design work among teachers, administrators and educational associations, which he built across the Commonwealth as he facilitated the development of the Standards Aligned System (SAS), combining research and best practices to ensure student achievement. With the launch of an educational portal to support the Standards Aligned System, unprecedented resources are now available to Pennsylvania educators. SAS implementation has skyrocketed in just the few short months since the portal release in December 2009 and is expected to make a dramatic impact on twenty-first century teaching and learning in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing that his vision of success for all children would not be met without focusing on quality teaching and effective leadership, Dr. Zahorchak worked collaboratively with school administrators to establish the Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) Program. PIL is a standards-based statewide continuing professional education program that is focused on developing the knowledge and skills that school leaders need to improve student achievement.
As a result of these reforms, student achievement has been rising rapidly: the 2010 Education Trust Report found Pennsylvania to be one of the top nine states to make gains in all groups from 2003-2009 and the Center for Educational Policy found Pennsylvania to be the only state to significantly boost student achievement in reading and math from 2003 through 2009.