Deerfield schools incorporate new standards into instruction
Amy Karasick passes out workbooks in her classroom at Kipling Elementary School in Deerfield. Teachers have been tasked with implementing a new Common Core curriculum designed to prepare students for college and careers. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2012 3:23PM
DEERFIELD — Deerfield Public Schools District 109 and Township High School District 113 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.
District 109 officials reported that its Kindergarten through eighth-grade math and language arts curriculum, as well as its 21st Century Skills Assessment, have already been updated to accommodate the new standards.
District officials plan to use MAPS testing with Fountas and Pinnell testing on an as-needed basis for third to fourth grade reading and language arts. The district also has updated its school planners, provided mastery skill sheets and number corner supplements for kindergarten through fifth grade math, and also have updated its 21st Century Skills Assessments to be issued to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Departments and teams of teachers have been working to review the common core standards in math and reading/language arts and making adjustments as they can,” explained District 109 Superintendent Dr. Renee Goier. “Much of this past summer’s work — which involved many hours of collaboration among a large team of administrators and teachers — focused on this type of work.”
Goier added, however, that educators within the district have so far found the standards to be impractical, and more than they could reasonably cover in a school year.
In District 113, English teacher Buffy Sallee sent out a grading overview to her students that broke down assignments by the four main areas of focus as outlined by the common core standards: Reading, writing. language, and listening and speaking.
Earning a score of “four” would indicate that the student had demonstrated a thorough understanding of the subject matter; a “three” shows a high level of understanding with small errors; “two”signifies that the student had demonstrated understanding, but with significant gaps; and “one” would show some understanding, but not enough for a passing grade.
“We’re working to ensure that our curriculum is aligned to the common core standards, and if there are gaps, we are working to fill them,” said Natalie Kaplan, District 113’s director of communication. “A lot of our work has focused around the course team level and the department level.”
Common Core’s first phase — adoption, communication and coordination — was set to be completed by the end of last school year. Phase II, which is currently ongoing in all schools, requires communication, resource design and design of implementation. Phase III will involve transition, implementation and technical assistance.
The new system, which is set to be fully implemented by the 2014–15 school year, incorporates standards that are fewer, clearer and higher, officials explained. The standards are internationally benchmarked, evidence-based, and teach 21st Century skills.
For more information on Common Core standards in Illinois, go to www.isbe.net/common_core/default.htm, or visit www.corestandards.org. Lake Zurich schools incorporate new standards into instruction