Common Core State Standards Initiative
Illinois adopted the Common Core in 2010 and teachers and administrators across the state are fully implementing the new standards during the 2013-14 school year. This is a collaborative effort to raise learning standards and improve college and career readiness for all students. These establish clear expectations for what students should learn in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level. The standards are high, clear, and uniform to ensure that students are prepared for success in college and the workforce. It ensures that students have comprehensive understanding key concepts. Many schools have already begun to incorporate elements of the new learning standards into their curricula. The Common Core determines what educators should teach, not how they should teach. Teachers will continue to have the freedom to create lesson plans to the individual needs of their students.
The Common Core’s higher standards and emphasis on applying knowledge to real world situations will better prepare Illinois students for the challenges facing them after high school graduation. There are many strengths of the Common Core Standards; the increased rigor should lead students to be more prepared for life after high school. This is not an easy task, particularly for teachers. Teachers have the largest responsibility in this transition. Many will not only have to re-vamp what they have taught, but also how they teach the material. However, these standards will lead to the development of higher level thinking skills in our students. Students today often are tested on one skill at a time. The Common Core assessment will cover several skills within each question. This will ultimately lead to better problem solving skills and increased reasoning. They specifically establish goals that guide teachers in their design of instruction without limiting their professional judgment in how to deliver it. They will infuse English and math competencies into other subject areas, just as processing information, solving problems and communication are infused in all aspects of adult life in the 21st century.
Districts, schools, administrators and teachers will face opposition and negative feedback. This is a huge change in the direction of education in Illinois and the United States. There will be challenges that newly certified teacher will face. These new standards for teaching K-12 point to the need for all teachers to regularly acquire new knowledge of content, learning theory and technology by participating in comprehensive professional development. For elementary and middle school teachers, that will require engaging students in different ways through guided one-on-one student conversations, teaching them how to listen critically, to offer feedback, to stay focused. The common Core Standards will allow students to better understand what is expected of them. This is important in that if a student understands what, and why they are learning something, there becomes a greater sense of purpose behind learning it.
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