Community Schools and Common Core
Like almost every other state in the country, Illinois is making the shift to Common Core State Standards. The new standards are aimed at ensuring that children and young people develop necessary critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and learning skills, and are prepared to do increasingly rigorous academic work as their educational careers progress.  As schools embark upon the huge task of transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, we believe it is absolutely essential that community school partners take every opportunity to support students’ mastery of these rigorous requirements during out-of-school time programming, and work to engage parents as partners in the transition.

Community schools and resource coordinators,
in particular, have an important role to play in helping schools transition to the CCSS.  In order for students to successfully adjust to the CCSS, learning experiences and use of the CCSS cannot be restricted just to taking place in the classroom, during the formal school day. Out-of-school time programs, activities that parents engage in with their children, and training for school staff and partners alike all must be infused with Common Core Learning.

Common Core Corps Initiative
Common Core State Standards - Insight into their Development and Purpose
FAQ about Common Core State Standards
Math Standards Tools and Resources
Literacy Standards Tools and Resources
Parent Education Tools and Resources

Summer Learning Opportunities
PARCC - the new state assessment

Common Core Corps Initiative
With generous support from The Boeing Company, The Federation has partnered with Dr. Barbara Radner from the Polk Bros. Foundation Center for Urban Education at DePaul University to educate our members about the CCSS. Throughout the year we offer foundational workshops and trainings that are open to any interested in learning more about the CCSS and the role of community partners in supporting students and families as schools transition to these new Standards.  For more information about these trainings please check our calendar or contact Havilah.

Additionally, a select group of experienced and committed resource coordinators were selected to participate an intensive training program called the Common Core Corps which runs from March, 2014 through May 2015. Corps members participate in monthly trainings, receive on-site technical assistance and serve as leaders among their peers in our community school network to ensure learning from the program are disseminated throughout their organizations and schools. 

 
Lessons from this program are posted to this site and organized in one of three content areas:
Math Standards, Literacy Standards, and Parent Education.  If you have any questions or can't find what you are looking for, please contact Havilah

FAQ about Common Core State Standards

What is the Common Core?
Who developed the Common Core?
Why are the Common Core State Standards important?
When will the Common Core take effect?
Will common assessments be developed?
What grade levels are included in the Common Core State Standards?
Why are the Common Core State Standards only for English language arts and math?
Are there plans to develop common standards in other areas in the future?
What do the Common Core State Standards mean for students?
Does the Common Core mandate a national curriculum for schools?
How does Common Core affect after-school / out-of-school time programs?
Do out-of-school time program providers have to become experts in Common Core?
Will students in Illinois still take ISAT?
What is going to happen to students’ test scores after the test changes from ISAT to PARCC?
What should parents know about the Common Core?
How can we help educate parents about the Common Core?

What is the Common Core?
State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 45 states have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.  Learn about the Common Core in 3 minutes by watching the video below!



Who developed the Common Core?
The nation's governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators, and experts from across the country - together with state leaders - provided input into the development of the standards. The actual implementation of the Common Core, including how the standards are taught, the curriculum developed, and the materials used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards, is led entirely at the state and local levels.

Why are the Common Core State Standards important?
High standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations to ensure that all students have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life upon graduation from high school, regardless of where they live. These standards are aligned to the expectations of colleges, workforce training programs, and employers. The standards promote equity by ensuring all students are well prepared to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad. Unlike previous state standards, which varied widely from state to state, the Common Core enables collaboration among states on a range of tools and policies, including the:
  • Development of textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials
  • Development and implementation of common comprehensive assessment systems that replace existing state testing systems
  • Development of tools and other supports to help educators and schools ensure all students are able to learn the new standards

When will the Common Core take effect?
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the standards on June 24, 2010 and individual school districts have begun transitioning to the CCSS.  Chicago Public Schools began the transition to CCSS in 2011-12 and will fully implement in the 2014-15 school year, when the state assessment will also be aligned to assess CCSS.

Will common assessments be developed?
Two state-led consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), are currently working to develop assessments.  Most states have chosen to participate in one of the two consortia; Illinois is one of 26 states that has chosen to participate in PARCC. These assessments are expected to be available in the 2014-2015 school year, though the current assessment in Illinois (ISAT) includes PARCC items. You can view sample questions and take a practice test on the PARCC website

What grade levels are included in the Common Core State Standards?
The English language arts and math standards are for grades K-12. Research from the early childhood and higher education communities also informed the development of the standards.

Why are the Common Core State Standards only for English language arts and math?
English language arts and math were the subjects chosen for the Common Core State Standards because they are areas upon which students build skill sets that are used in other subjects. Students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so the standards specify the literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines. It is important to note that the literacy standards in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects for grades 6–12 are meant to supplement content standards in those areas, not replace them. States determine how to incorporate these standards into their standards for those subjects or adopt them as content area literacy standards.
 
Are there plans to develop common standards in other areas in the future?
CCSSO and NGA are not leading the development of standards in other academic content areas. Below is information on efforts of other organizations to develop standards in other academic subjects.

What do the Common Core State Standards mean for students?
Today's students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are prepared for success after graduation, the Common Core establishes a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts.

Does the Common Core mandate a national curriculum for schools?
No. The standards are not curricula and do not mandate the use of any particular curriculum. Teachers are able to develop their own lesson plans and choose materials, as they have always done. States that have adopted the standards may choose to work together to develop instructional materials and curricula. As states work individually to implement their new standards, publishers of instructional materials and experienced educators will develop new resources around these shared standards.

How does Common Core affect after-school / out-of-school time programs?
As schools embark upon the task of transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, it is absolutely essential that after-school / out-of-school time programs and community school partners take every opportunity to support students’ mastery of these rigorous requirements during out-of-school time programming, and work to engage parents as partners in the transition.  The Federation has resources related to the Math & Literacy standards to help program providers engage students in Common Core learning during out-of-school time and to educate parents about how they can support student learning at home. 

Do out of school time program providers have to become experts in Common Core?
Every adult who interacts with students during the school day should be familiar with the Common Core standards.  The goal for community school resource coordinators, whether it be through the programs they design or activities they select from providers, should be to use the Common Core standards to help students to become a clearer thinkers.  

Will students in Illinois still take ISAT?
After the 2013-2014 school years, students will no longer be assessed using the ISAT.  Going forward, all students will take the PARCC exam. That exam will be given annually in the spring and is based on the Common Core standards.

What is going to happen to students’ test scores after the test changes from ISAT to PARCC?
Students will be assessed with PARCC for the first time in the year 2015. Those scores will be the baseline scores for this assessment.  Results from ISAT will not be compared with the results from PARCC.  As of 2016, schools’ PARCC scores will be comparable across years.  Until then, schools will use other tests to determine student gains.  
 
What should parents know about the Common Core?
First, parents should know that the Common Core Standards will result in greater learning of math, reading, and writing. The standards were designed to ensure that all students will receive a rigorous education that prepares them for college and careers. Secondly, the Common Core standards are not completely new.  They build upon the standards that have been in place for many years.  Thirdly, real life experiences are learning experiences.  By having conversations about everyday events, parents can help their children to extend learning beyond the classroom and to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
 
How can we help educate parents about the Common Core?
It is important to connect with parents about the Common Core.  Meet with parents and give them tools such as questions to ask about readings, activities, and even questions to ask about television programs. Organize a series of parent workshops at your school.  As always, encourage parents to seek out assistance when there are questions and concerns about their child’s progress.
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