News

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2013

Survey shows Illinois teachers gearing up to teach new Illinois Learning Standards


Survey of 1,300 teachers shows implementation plans in place for new Math and English Language Learning Standards

SPRINGFIELD— A survey of 1,300 teachers across the state revealed that 80 percent of respondents are working in school districts with implementation plans for the new Illinois Learning Standards, which are based on the Common Core, ensuring more students will be instructed under the more rigorous, internationally-benchmarked standards.  The majority of those responding report components of the new standards for math and English Language Arts are already part of their current lessons or will become part of instruction next school year.

“This survey shows that Illinois administrators and teachers are working hard to implement these new learning standards so that students in our state can meet benchmarks set for their peers across the nation and in other countries,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We know implementation varies but generally involves a school-wide commitment to collaboration and professional development that allows teachers to develop and hone new approaches and integrate core content into all subjects. When these standards are implemented properly, students are able to master and apply their knowledge on a much higher and deeper level than ever before.”

Implementation varies from one school district to another because some districts are already using curriculum and practices that meet the new Illinois Learning Standards, while others are still establishing how they will transition to the new standards.  Most implementation plans begin with establishing a school-based team that reviews the new standards, passed in 2010, and develops and executes an implementation plan.

The state-led movement to use common standards revolutionizes education in the United States because it’s more likely that a student moving from one state to another will now face very similar content and expectations, and graduates will ultimately be better able to collaborate and compete with their peers in the global economy.

“We’ve always had learning standards in Illinois and other states,” Superintendent Koch explained. “Now as states, we’re offering a similar roadmap with updated benchmarks to reflect the best current day research and practices. This survey shows that districts and teachers largely agree and are eager to develop the curricula and hone the instructional approaches that meet these higher standards.”

Survey findings include:

Judi Herzog, an eighth-grade English Language Arts teacher in Belle Valley School District 119 in Belleville said the new Illinois Learning Standards require her students to not only provide the correct answers but articulate their comprehension of subject material, a skill that will serve them in the workforce and college.

“Before they could just give me the answer and it was good enough,” said Herzog, a teacher for 37 years. “Now they have to show me the text that supports their answer. It’s not merely `here’s my answer,’ but this is my proof and reasoning for how I came to my answer. It makes students more accountable for their learning and keeps them more engaged.”

Herzog and other teachers say they have implemented the new Illinois Learning Standards in their schools through a large amount of peer collaboration and cross-disciplinary committee work as the standards emphasize integration of key skills such as reading, writing and mathematical thinking in all subjects, not just English Language arts and Math.

“I think it’s increasing both college and career readiness because it gives  students, especially with the focus on informational text, more opportunities to apply what they’re learning in real-world situations and various content areas,” said Christina Robinson, an English Language Arts teacher at Nashville Community High School in southwestern Illinois. “It’s not only about writing in English class but writing is important in shop class, it’s important in science class. It’s a broader application of student learning.” 

While many teachers and administrators have attended ISBE-sponsored professional development on the new Illinois Learning Standards, the need for more ongoing professional development is recognized. Many educators attended sessions offered through their Regional Offices of Education and their own local districts. More seminars will be offered through the summer and upcoming school year but much of the work begins with a school-based committee.

Ryan Schaefer, a fifth-grade teacher at Tioga Elementary in Bensenville Elementary School District 2 where he has served on such a committee, has implemented lessons that meet the English Language Arts Standards this school year and will implement curriculum to meet the Math standards starting in August. He recently tested a new approach, based on the Common Core, during a lesson on fractions this school year and found that students responded enthusiastically and with greater confidence.

“Common Core emphasizes learning concepts to mastery; there are less areas to cover so we can really go deep with the curriculum,” Schaefer said. ”It was easier for me to teach the lesson and students picked it up much faster.”

A teacher of seven years, Schaefer said the collaboration that has gone on between teachers and administrators as part of the planning process is a great way to build teacher leaders within schools and strengthen relationships among colleagues and administrators.

“It’s sort of like when you jump into a pool,” Schaefer said of implementing the standards. “It’s a little intimidating but once you jump in and really start examining the standards, it’s not all that complicated.”

The survey regarding implementation was available via the ISBE website mid- January through late February. To see the survey results, visit: http://www.isbe.net/common_core/pdf/ataglance.pdf

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.  The standards were developed by teachers, principals, parents and education experts with lots of feedback from the general public. Illinois adopted the Common Core Standards in August 2010 and is among 45 states and the District of Columbia to voluntarily take on these more rigorous standards.

Illinois is a member of The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a consortium of 22 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math aligned to the Common Core Standards. These new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal from 3rd grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support. The PARCC assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year.

Visit these Common Core web resources for additional information:

Illinois State Board of Education: http://www.isbe.net/common_core/default.htm

Advance Illinois Common Core webpage: http://commoncoreil.org/

Illinois PTA: http://www.illinoispta.org/ccss.html

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers: http://www.parcconline.org/

 

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