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District 225 moves forward with new Common Core State Standards

While the state’s new Common Core standards may mean significant changes for some school districts, Glenbrook High School District 225 has already begun implementing key changes to better align its curriculum with the new standards.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with educators. These standards, which apply to students in grades K-12, primarily impact math and English/language arts.

“Common Core State Standards were developed to better prepare U.S. students for college and careers and provide consistency in the quality of education across the nation. While this initiative requires changes in our curriculum, the work our teachers have begun will allow for a smooth transition to the new standards,” said Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Dr. Rosanne Williamson.

During her presentation to the Board on February 11, Williamson explained what these changes would look like at the high school level. For example, in math, the new standards focus on developing students’ conceptual understanding, which prepares a student to apply and adapt mathematical ideas to new situations. There will also be fewer topics to allow for more in-depth learning of important concepts and a new testing structure that moves away from multiple-choice questions.

To align the curriculum with these new standards, math teachers revised and implemented extended response problems this fall that are of greater high-cognitive demand.

In English/language arts, the new writing standards focus more on argumentative writing rather than persuasive writing. Additional non-fiction reading material will also supplement core units of study in response to the standards’ call for more non-fiction reading.

Professional development sessions were conducted in 2010 and 2011 for District 225 and sender districts to prepare teachers for these changes. Since then, teachers have reviewed writing standards that focus more on argumentative writing and are currently conducting a “gap analysis” to better bridge 8th and 9th grade writing assignments in light of the new standards.

“District 225 will continue to work collaboratively with sender districts to ensure that the transition from 8th grade to 9th grade remains smooth for our students in spite of these curricular changes,” Williamson said.

New assessments coming in the 2014-15 school year will measure student performance relative to CCSS and determine how effective school districts are in preparing students for college and careers.  These assessments are being developed by the Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).  The new assessments will be administered online to students in grades 9-11.