Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire schools incorporate new standards into instruction
Half Day School teacher Sharyn Powell's teaching style earned her a Heroes in the Classroom award. Teachers have been tasked with implementing a new Common Core curriculum to prepare students for college and careers. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2012 3:21PM
Buffalo Grove and Lincolnshire schools have been changing instruction to meet new educational standards designed to provide a “common core” of knowledge for students.
Referred to as Common Core, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted the new learning standards in June of 2010. The goal is to provide students knowledge they need to succeed in college or the workplace.
The standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association for Best Practices. All but five states — Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia and Alaska — have signed on.
“What a student in Montana needs to know in fifth-grade math is mostly the same as a student in Illinois,” said Mary Fergus, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.
The common core standards focus on math and English, though educators are upgrading standards in other subject areas as well. This is the first update in learning standards in Illinois since 1997, according to the State Board of Education website.
A new exam, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is being developed. It’s tentatively scheduled for the 2014-15 school year, Fergus said.
After adopting the standards, the State Board of Education also is supplying professional development assistance to educators. But it’s up to individual school districts to adjust the local curriculum and teaching.
School officials in both Buffalo Grove and Lincolnshire spoke highly of the initiative.
“The content ought to be the same around the nation,” said Jim Conrey, spokesman for Stevenson High School.
Theresa Dunkin, superintendent of Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102, said parents should be aware that the new program involves real classroom-level changes, not just new jargon from educators.
“If all the districts see is realignment, they will really miss the boat,” she said.
Julie Brua, District 102’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, explained that there are four chief changes; including, more interaction between students, helping students draw more out of reading, writing and research.
“There’s a lot of big differences,” added Paul Louis, director of curriculum and assessment for Kildeer-Countryside Elementary District 96. “This is more in line with what we think should be going on in the classrooms.”
The largest changes may be happening in math rooms, Louis said.
Rather than each student crunching numbers individually, groups will now communicate with each other and critique each others’ work. The problems are designed to be more complicated and real-world applicable.
In a few years, the content of an eighth-grade algebra class will be hard for parents to recognize, he said.
“It’s a combination of geometry and data analysis and probability, along with algebra,” Louis said.
The true success of the new program might not be measurable until today’s elementary students enroll in college or start in the work force, but the first glimpses of common core’s impact will come in 2015, when the first test results come back.
“Everything changes when that new assessment comes out,” Louis said.