The standards provide benchmarks for progress that each student should at the conclusion of each grade level. Teachers establish the best approach to help students meet or exceed those standards. Communication with parents will help them understand what those standards are at each grade level.
“We decide how best to apply the standards with our district and our students,” Bence said.
Bence added that communication among the staff is key to understanding what and how students are learning. The staff meets regularly to gauge how the students are doing compared to the standards. A variety of media and formatted are used to evaluate, create and distribute information.
“They’re adjusting the skills to make more sense along the way,” Bence said. “Teachers share their resource methods to better serve the students.”
No Child Left Behind was a federal act that increased the goals so that 100 percent of the students meet or exceed the standards by 2014. States could apply for a waiver to be exempted from that standard.
Because Illinois has not gotten the waiver, the state is still under No Child Left Behind, but is using Common Core assessments to be ready when the state adopts Common Core in 2015. Although states set their own standards, there is a sharing of resources from state to state. ISAT will include the Common Core questions this spring, but will be fully Common Core testing next year.
The American Diploma Project survey program found that approximately 40 percent of college freshmen, including those going to a two-year program, have to take remedial courses. They have also surveyed businesses to find what skills are needed in today’s workplace and what skills are lacking with today’s students.
Even with changes in the standards, the schools are using the same textbooks. Only the teaching method has changed.
Bence said that she believes the biggest misconception is that local schools have lost control of what is being taught.
“People need to ask what’s going on in the classroom. Come in and look. Ask teachers, ask administrators, or ask board members,” Bence said. “We ask parents to trust the local school board, administration and teachers to make learning better for the kids.”