It is often said that the American education system tries to cover so much information that it goes “a mile wide and an inch deep.” In the coming years, you will hear a great deal about an exciting change in education that will allow students to gain a deeper understanding of subject material. Illinois joined 45 other states in adopting Common Core State Standards in English and Math for grades kindergarten through 12. These national standards, which are benchmarked to international standards, are the single largest education reform to happen in decades.
The standards will replace existing state standards and involve more rigor, with an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills. It will no longer be about finding the right answer, but being able to explain how you came to that answer. In a global economy, students must be prepared to compete with not only their American peers in other states, but with students from around the world. These standards will help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and compete in the global market.
The standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they clearly identify the knowledge that students are expected to attain each year. Beginning in 2014, there will be new standardized tests given to measure if students are meeting these expectations. Students in grades third through eighth currently take the ISAT each March to assess student growth. The new assessments will be given multiple times, most likely at the beginning of the year to determine if early intervention is needed, once in the middle of the year to see if student progress is on track, and then at the end of the year to measure growth. The goal is not to have more tests, but to have smarter and better tests that help students, parents, and teachers.
I know we have some of the best educators in District 204 who are highly committed to their students. Many have already begun work to make sure our curriculum is aligned to the new standards. Once their work is complete, student learning will change. Concepts will be introduced earlier and what is already a rigorous curriculum will be even more so. Our teachers already do a wonderful job preparing students for life after high school, but the new standards are exciting because it provides the opportunity to equip students with stronger skills to be life-long competent learners.
Because the new standards are so important, we have created a section on our website to provide you with resources and information as we move forward with implementation. You can learn more at Common Core State Standards.
Indian Prairie Unit School District 204