Q: What are the Common Core State Standards?
A: The Common Core is a higher, clearer and deeper set of learning standards for English Language Arts and math, with more subjects coming in the future. Developing the new standards has been a state-led initiative, with states voluntarily choosing to raise the bar for students. Current Illinois standards will remain in effect until new Common Core subjects are added.Q: Why is Illinois adopting the Common Core Standards?
A: Learning standards have not been updated in Illinois since 1997 and the world has changed a lot since then. These new standards will ensure that our students are better prepared for college and the workforce by emphasizing more complex content and the development of real-world skills like problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.Q: How are Illinois students doing now?
A: Currently, only one in four of Illinois students graduates ready for college or career. Only 38 percent of Illinois students ever earn a 2- or 4- year college degree in an economy in which most employers are requiring them. Additionally, only 19% of students who enroll in a 2-year institution and 62% of students who enroll in a 4-year institution end up graduating. We can do better!Q: When will the Common Core State Standards be introduced?
A: The standards will begin to be introduced to all Illinois classrooms by fall 2012. All districts are required to fully implement the standards by fall 2013.Q: Is Illinois the only state using the Common Core?
A: Far from it! Almost every state- 46 in fact- have voluntarily adopted the Common Core and all public schools within those states will use these standards. This consistency means we will be able to accurately compare how our students are doing with those in other states and that Illinois students will be ready no matter where they end up living, working or going to college.Q: Does my child’s teacher know about this?
A: Absolutely! Teachers across Illinois have been working hard to prepare for the new standards and support raising the bar for our students.Q: Does the Common Core tell teachers what to teach?
A: Common Core creates a framework for what students must learn and skills they must develop, but teachers and principals will continue to have the flexibility to create or select the curriculum that best fits the needs of their students. The Common Core is not a national curriculum.Q: What will the transition to the new standards mean for my student?
A: In the short term, students’ grades and test scores may drop during the ramp-up period to the higher standards, so it’s crucial for parents and teachers to work together to help students during the transition. Remember, this doesn’t mean students know less, it means our expectations for what they must learn have been raised.Q: Will the Common Core change how my kids are tested?
A: Starting in fall 2014, a new test called the PARCC will be given in smaller segments throughout the year. This will help teachers identify which students need extra help, and testing more frequently makes it possible to catch and fix small problems before they become big problems.Q: Will the ISAT still be used?
A: The ISAT will still be administered until the PARCC is launched in 2014. However, the way the test is scored will be changed so scores may seem like they have dropped. That doesn't mean your kids know less than they did before, simply that we expect even more of them going forward. We know that Illinois' kids can meet these higher standards, and that doing so will ensure they're better prepared for college and career.Q: Are college admissions tests like the ACT and SAT changing?
A: No, the ACT and SAT will still be the primary college entrance exams. But mastering the new standards will mean students are not only prepared to excel on college entrance exams, they will also be well prepared to succeed in college.Q: Are colleges on board with Common Core?
A:Yes. The higher standards will mean students are better prepared for the careers and education they pursue after graduating high school. And better prepared students will mean that fewer students will have to take expensive remedial classes in college.Q: What can I do as a parent?
•Learn more about the Core! The more you know about standards, tests and what’s expected, the better you can advocate for your children. Check out the Illinois State Board of Education’s Common Core website: isbe.net/common_core/default.htm and visit: CommonCoreIL.org for more information and examples of the standards.
• Work with teachers to understand what will be expected of your children this year and create a plan to help them succeed.
• Explain to your children that new higher standards will help them reach their college and career goals.
• Don’t panic if you see a slip in test scores and grades. It’s not that students know less, it’s that we expect them to know more. Research shows that if you raise expectations, students will meet them though it may take some time.
• Contact your children’s schools to learn when they are implementing the Common Core standards.
• Keep your eyes on the prize! The Common Core is critical to giving our kids a world-class education that prepares them for college and career. They deserve nothing less!