Shelbyville Daily Union

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December 31, 2013

New standards yield better math, reading skills

In spite of a new set of standards, the basic skills of math and reading have not changed.

Common Core is the new standard being used by nearly all the states, replacing the standards of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. The state Boards of Education set their own standards, but local teachers decide how best to teach to meet those standards.

Forty- five states have adopted Common Core, but Illinois has not. However, the state has set standards to establish clear expectations for what students should learn in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level in anticipation of adopting Common Core.

But Common Core has been met with much criticism.

“Common Core is good for the kids and is not radically different. We are teaching the same math and reading skills that we’ve always taught. We might teach them in a different order or with higher expectations than before,” said Shelbyville Superintendent Denise Bence.

“We’re getting kids to set up the problem, not just give them a problem to work,” Bence explained. “It’s more about making it more real world -- understanding the problem and setting up the problem. We’re still teaching the same skills, but teaching how to apply the skills - how to figure out for themselves instead of just giving information.”

In reading, students are asked to find information in what they read which strengthens comprehension skills in reading non-fiction texts. The answers may not be verbatim in the reading material.

“It’s getting kids to do the research in finding information,” Bence said. “And when they find the information, they have to know how to use it and apply it.”

The goal of Common Core is to better prepare Illinois students for success in college and the workforce in a competitive global economy.

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