Judy Minor: State standards present challenge and opportunity
A fundamental — and monumental — shift is taking place within our schools.
To better prepare students to be successful in our increasingly competitive and global economy, Illinois has voluntarily joined 45 other states in adopting new academic standards known as the Common Core. The standards are “common” in that they are shared by other states and are internationally benchmarked; they are “uncommon” in that they are much more rigorous than ever before.
What is exciting (as well as somewhat daunting) about the Common Core State Standards is that, while they set forth educational objectives, they don’t dictate the details. Control over curriculum will remain with our local school board, with teachers deciding how to tailor lessons to best meet student needs and to provide necessary support. Both internal and external measurements will be designed to monitor student academic success and to preserve the high quality of our programs.
Since Illinois voted to adopt the Common Core in 2010, we at Community High School District 99 have been in serious planning mode. We’ve studied the standards, taken inventory of our current course offerings and refined our curriculum so that our students will be successful. The core academic disciplines of math and English will be our first departments to integrate the Common Core State Standards starting in the fall of 2013.
We’ve also taken an active leadership role in building bridges of understanding both with the elementary and middle schools that send students to us as well as the post-secondary institutions where many of our students will attend after high school. By collaborating closely with our colleagues and analyzing curriculum across grade levels, we want to ensure that all students receive a high quality, seamless educational experience.
Shifting the sequence of what we teach students is a complicated process, but the payoff will be immense. Every student at every level will be challenged by more rigorous and relevant coursework that demands greater critical thinking skills. The result will be a solid foundation from which our students can expect a future filled with even brighter opportunities.
Judy Minor is the assistant superintendent for student learning at District 99, which represents North High and South High Schools in Downers Grove
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