New Illinois Learning Standards
Fact vs Myth
Common Core Standards are benchmarks developed by teachers, administrators and other education experts through a national consortium. These standards aim to bring more consistency and uniformity to what students learn at each grade level from one state to another so that all students in the United States are better prepared to compete and collaborate in the 21st Century global economy.
In 2010, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted these new, more rigorous and internationally-benchmarked Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Math and schools across the state are at various stages of incorporating the standards into classroom curriculum.
The Common Core standards better define what students need to know and be able to do at every grade level from kindergarten through high school so that students are prepared to succeed in college and careers. The Common Core standards require more active and engaged teaching and learning in the classroom with less emphasis on scripted instruction and multiple choice tests. Students may be required to do more than they have in the past with an emphasis on applying and demonstrating their knowledge.
The Common Core Standards have been adopted by more than 45 states and the District of Columbia.
- The best understanding of what works in education comes from practice and experience. That’s why the standards were developed by teachers, principals, parents and education experts with lots of feedback along the way from the general public, not politicians in Washington.
- Illinois was in the process of updating standards in English Language Arts and Math, which had not been updated since 1997 when our state joined an initiative spearheaded by governors and state education chiefs from across the nation to develop common standards.
- Saving money and time was among the driving forces of the Common Core Standards development. For years, states have developed their own standards, spending time and money to write standards, help produce aligned curriculum and assessments when the core content was the same for grade levels, whether in Montana or Maine.
- Illinoisans had the opportunity to provide feedback on the Common Core State Standards during two public comment periods, one in September 2009 and the other in March 2010. Teachers, parents, higher education representatives, and community members from Illinois offered their comments on the standards. Illinois contributed to development of the Common Core as well by having Illinois State Board of Education staff provide feedback on multiple drafts of the standards throughout the development process.
- The Illinois State Board of Education initially reviewed the standards on June 24, 2010. The standards were also published in the Illinois Register on July 9, 2010, which initiate a 45-day public comment period. The Board adopted the rulemaking on Sept. 24, 2010, and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a bipartisan legislative oversight committee, issued a Certification of No Objection on Oct. 19, 2010. The rulemaking incorporating the standards took effect on Oct. 28, 2010 and was published in the Illinois Register on Nov. 12, 2010.
- The standards incorporate the best and highest of previous state standards in the U.S. and are internationally benchmarked to the top performing nations around the world.
- When American students have the skills and knowledge needed in today’s job market, our communities will be strong and competitive in the global economy.
College, Career and Real-World Readiness
- The standards are designed to be relevant in the real world and to make sure all students graduate high school with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and careers.
Clear and Consistent Expectations and Goals
- The standards provide students, parents and teachers with a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn at every grade level, and as such, serve as a roadmap to quality education. Outcomes improve when students, parents and teachers are on the same page working together toward shared goals.
- The standards provide consistent learning goals for all students – regardless of where they live – so that when children move from one state to another, they will stay on track in school, making the transition of moving more seamless for both students and teachers.
Local Decision-Making on Implementation, Catered to Students
- The standards establish what students need to learn, but do not tell teachers how to teach. Teachers will continue to create lesson plans and tailor instruction to the unique needs of the students in their classroom. The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them, which is why the standards allow each teacher in each classroom to figure out what works best.
- Implementation decisions will remain local. Teachers and school leaders will determine how the standards are to be taught and will establish the curriculum, just as they currently do, allowing for continued flexibility and creativity.
Procedural and Conceptual Understanding
- The standards stress not only procedural skills, but also conceptual understanding to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels – rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review it again the following year.
- For example, the high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically. The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling – the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations – to help students better understand the concept and improve decision-making skills.
Combination of Informational and Literary Text Required
- The English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core Standards require a range of high quality readings through a combination of informational and literary text. This includes but is not limited to fiction, poetry, non-fiction and historical documents.
No Required Reading, Just Suggestions
- The standards contain no required reading list for teachers, just suggestions of works that encompass a diverse catalogue of informational and literary text.
- Illinois education budget proposal can be found at http://www.isbe.net/budget/
- You will note that there is not a line devoted to Common Core implementation.
- The adoption of common standards among states may, in fact, result in cost savings, given that states will be able to share curriculum materials, items on state tests, etc. The estimated cost of testing aligned to the Common Core approximates Illinois’ current expenditures.
- Illinois education budget has been reduced by nearly $900 million since Fiscal Year 2009, and the state’s contribution for education is ranked the lowest of all 50 states.