Lake County schools to see curriculum changes
Students in kindergarten through high school, including this kindergarden class at Copeland Manor School, will soon be learning under a new curriculum called Common Core State Standards. Forty-six states have adopted the program. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times M
Updated: January 31, 2013 4:04PM
Parents and students are hearing the term “Common Core” more frequently, but not everyone understands exactly how it will change education.
This new state standard program, which 46 states have adopted, aims to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. The idea, according to the program’s website www.corestandards.org, is to allow teachers and parents know what they need to do to help students learn.
Anticipating your questions, we spoke with several local school district officials and asked them to tell us more about this important shift. Here’s what we learned:
Q: Why was this national standard instituted?
A: American students often under-perform their peers in other countries and high school students are often unprepared for college and career, administrators said. Common Core State Standards seek to make it clear what students should know and at what grade level they should know it.
The standards also require learning to be more relevant to the real world.
Libertyville Elementary District 70’s Kathy Dinger, director of curriculum and instruction, said the program aims to “increase consistency of expectations in learning for students and instruction for teachers.”
Q: Has Illinois adopted these standards?
A: Yes. Illinois incorporated Common Core in June, 2010. Currently the state is in the transitional phase. Teachers and administrators are working to make the necessary changes to their curriculums, materials, textbooks and more. Full implementation is expected in the 2014-2015 school year, officials said.
Q: Do these new standards apply to every subject area?
A: Right now, there are standards in math and English/language arts. Science standards are still being formulated.
Q: Are all grades affected by these new standards?
A: Yes, Common Core applies to students in kindergarten all the way through the end of high school.
Q: How did educators arrive at the standards for Common Core standards arrived at?
A: The idea was born at the university level, According to Lisa Cerauli, director of teaching and learning at Hawthorn School District 73,. The U.S. Board of education then worked with those scholars and business leaders to determine what skills and knowledge American students were lacking.
Q: Does switching to Common Core present a big challenge to local school districts?
A: Yes and no. Officials said that while the changes are major, many districts are well-prepared.
For example, adjustments have not been too big in Community High School District 128.
Al Fleming, associate superintendent, said his district regularly examined their curriculum even before Common Core existed.
Q: What are some examples of how Common Core will change the way things are taught or subject matter?
A: Cerauli said that the level of reading will increase and there will be a much stronger emphasis on informational texts, though literature will still be taught.
With math, there will be an earlier foundation of what Cerauli called “number sense” and math learning overall will focus on real-life applications.