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Value of Family and Consumer Sciences

The focus of the academic standards for family and consumer sciences (FCS) education is the individual, the family, and the community. The economic, social, and political well-being of our state depends on the well-being of Pennsylvania’s families. The family is responsible for nurturing its members. Family experiences, to a great extent, determine who a person is and what they become. Family and consumer sciences curriculum supports the development of the knowledge and skills that students need as family members both now and in the future.

FCS is the discipline that help students address family problems, such as divorce and domestic violence, which often are a result of poor communication skills; financial or consumer related problems; health problems related to poor nutrition; challenges in understanding and raising our children; and a generally stressed lifestyle, filled with time and resource management problems are all too common to society.

In many schools FCS is viewed as ‘elective,’ outdated, and unnecessary for all students. In many schools, it is regarded as ‘common sense’ that any intelligent student can master alone. Yet, as noted above, we know these problems have no barriers and affect all cultures. FCS provides the knowledge, skills, and habits of the mind that can make a difference. It is not just ‘common sense.’

While it is easy to recognize the importance of literacy and math skills for future success, too often we do not recognize the importance positive human relationships, good nutrition, and a balanced lifestyle play in the ability of students to come to school ready to learn and to enter the ‘adult’ world ready to fulfill their role as productive citizens and to raise strong families. We spend enormous amounts of taxpayers' dollars attempting to deal with these challenges, but often overlook the importance of prevention.

Family and consumer sciences standards were passed into law, January, 2003. They are designed to address the ills of society for the 21st century and are clearly written and rigorous. The standards speak to the challenges we face as members of a global society and can be delivered in a traditional manner or lend themselves to integration and collaboration with other disciplines.

FCS courses must require all students to investigate and plan for possible careers, develop practical skills for employment, develop financial literacy, manage resources, and practice positive communication skills. FCS education should engage students in identifying individual, family and community issues using the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) planning process. The course needs to be authentic and stress teamwork, leadership, and technology.

Academic Standards
The family and consumer sciences standards can be accessed at the Academic Standards section of the Department of Education Web site.

The standards document includes academic standards for family and consumer sciences at four grade levels (third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth) with the emphasis on what students will know and be able to do in the following areas:

  • 11.1. Financial and Resource Management
  • 11.2. Balancing Family, Work, and Community Responsibility
  • 11.3. Food Science and Nutrition
  • 11.4. Child Development

The family and consumer sciences discipline is composed of strong subject matter concentrations that form a framework for learning based on these tenets:

  • Families are the fundamental unit of society.
  • An understanding of individual and family development helps create strong families whose members are lifelong learners.
  • Meeting individual and family needs inside and outside the home are shared responsibilities.
  • Individual, family, and community well-being is strengthened through an awareness of diversity.
  • The use of diverse modes of inquiry strengthens intellectual development.
  • The content learned in family and consumer sciences classes enhances and supports the mastery of academic standards.
  • Standards-based learning within family and consumer sciences classrooms can best be demonstrated through performance-based assessment.

The academic standards for family and consumer sciences are written to empower individuals and families to manage the challenges of living and working in a diverse, global society. These academic standards address the functioning of families and their interrelationships with work, community, and society. The focus is on the recurring, practical problems of individuals and families.  Comprehensive classroom experiences allow students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to identify, create, and evaluate goals and alternative solutions to significant problems of everyday life. Students are taught to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions as they make choices about personal, family, and work responsibilities.


For additional information, please contact:

Jean Kelleher |
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Bureau of Career and Technical Education
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.6962 | Fax: 717.783.6672
jekelleher@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us