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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Common Core primer offered to District 186 parents

Danielle Fane said she came to Tuesday night’s presentation on Common Core because she knew very little about the new learning standards.

Afterward, Fane, the mother of a second-grader at Hazel Dell Elementary School, said she had a much better idea and appreciation for the concept.

“What I heard tonight about Common Core, I liked,” Fane said. “There seems to be more one-on-one learning and a focus on individual needs.”

Fane was one of dozens of parents to attend an informational meeting on Common Core at Southeast High School.

The event was organized by Springfield Public Schools, The Business Education Partnership, Faith Coalition for the Common Good, The Core Coalition and Springfield Education Association. About 100 people attended, including school officials.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort to establish a single set of more rigorous and clear educational standards for English-language arts and mathematics, according to the State Board of Education. It has been adopted by 45 states so far.

The initiative was coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Tuesday’s meeting featured remarks by Teresa Ramos, outreach director at Advance Illinois, and three District 186 officials: Kathy Crum, director of teaching and learning; Peggy Cormeny, family and community engagement coordinator; and Anne Morris, coordinator of research, testing and evaluation.

Attendees also watched a video from three teachers in the district discussing how Common Core has improved the way they teach in the classroom.

Ramos told the crowd one of the major benefits of Common Core is that it brings consistency to what kids learn in different states.

“Regardless of what ZIP code, you have to hold all children to high standards,” Ramos said.

At the local level, Crum said, District 186 has transitioned to Common Core over the past three years. One of the common misconceptions is that Common Core will change what is taught in the classroom, she said.

“We still control the curriculum inside our schools,” Crum said.

Parents should also expect changes next year in standardized testing, according to Morris.

The new test, known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, replaces the current Illinois Standards Achievement Test that’s given to third- through eighth-graders and the Prairie State Achievement Exam that’s given to high school juniors.

A number of students in 21 schools took a pilot test earlier this year, she said.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Morris said.

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