Our Stance & Solutions

- Hannah Yattoni

The Standards Are a Step Forward, But It May Be Too Much Too Soon

"There was not enough time or resources allocated for many schools to properly implement CCS. That is one reason several states have disengaged from the CCS initiative. I personally believe that the CCS should have been initially established at the lower grade levels and then phased in until all grade levels were included. Many educators have commented that it was "too much too soon."" - Mr. Canny, Principal


We can call agree that having new standards is a good thing. It is important to keep up with the times and continue to further the education of kids. However, throwing so many changes at the schools at one time will cause problems for many schools, especially those who's standards were lacking previously. At Rochester, our standards were higher and closer to the new standards that are being implemented, however at smaller more rural schools, raising the standards so much in such a short amount of time will cause and is already causing problems. Teachers are forced to learn new methods and alter their lesson plans to accommodate all of the material needed.

Solutions:

Mr. Canny pointed out that a better method would be to phase in the standards, starting with the lower grade levels and moving up from there each year. That way the teachers would have time to prepare for the changes and the students would have time to adjust.
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Illinois was one of the sixteen states that joined a board to help write the new tests in english and math.

New testing requirements

"Testing makes it difficult to cover all the material from time to time. There is a sense of need to assess, make the goal, hit the target and some of the kids show anxiety about this (teachers too). Finding time to assess essentially requires that teachers fit "x" amount of content into fewer days/weeks. This impacts the pacing in class as well and that can adversely affect the kids as they can struggle to keep up." - Mrs. Fox, 5th Grade


A large part of the new standards is the testing aspect. Students in grades 3-8 will be required to test in math and English during the 2014-2015 school year. The new tests will replace the ISATs. The are two parts to the test, one part is to be taken roughly 75% through the year and the other at 90%. These tests can be given online or with traditional paper and pencil. It is these scores that the students get that will then be used to assess the school and the district. Having to fit all of that material in before the day of the test can be challenging and may cause students to struggle to keep up with the faster pace of the class than they are used to.

Solutions:

Not put as much importance on the scores of the test. Having pressure on the kids and teachers only adds to the stress and may cause the results to be worse than they could be. Perhaps adopt a pre and post test system that would be after they have learned everything and have had all year to prepare.

New Tests Mean Complications & Less Trust in Results

"The real criticism comes in the way that schools are required to show student achievement. The testing piece of this is an area that deserves much criticism...The PARCC assessment process will be lengthy, will involve technology (both a good and bad thing in itself), and could be very complicated to administer...More importantly, Illinois had a system of student assessments that people had confidence in-both in terms of how to administer and that the test had value (the ACT)." - Mr. Ward, Director of Educational Services


Because of the new testing, there is not a general idea of what the test results mean. Now, everyone knows the scale and what the test scores mean on the ACT, but for the PARCC, the numbers that are reported don't have any value. Also, there were set guidelines for the schools to administer the tests, and they were tried and true. Now there are new rules and guidelines and the use of technology also poses problems.

Solutions:

They could have rewritten the ACT or altered some aspect of it instead of getting rid of it all together. It has been a trusted test for a long time and it seems silly to just get rid of it and not use it anymore. The idea of having a uniform test is a good idea, but they could have expanded the ACT or SAT test to everyone instead of adding a completely new test.

Schools Should Have More Input

"I am supportive of more rigorous college and career readiness standards; however, I believe decisions about curriculum are best made at the local level rather than by the state or federal government. " - Dr. Bertrand, Superintendent


Dr. Bertrand brought up the point of education and who really has the power to decide what schools are required to teach. Under the U.S. Constitution it is a state right to decide education requirements. In this way the PARCC and Common Core Standards are being implemented in slightly different ways across various states, for example it may be required to score at a certain point on the PARCC test to graduate. The standards themselves need to be raised around the country, but as far as specific curriculum goes we believe that should be left to the district.

Solutions:

Having committees and regional curriculum boards would be a start. The administrators know the students better than anyone else and one sweeping curriculum change may not be the best fit for a particular school. It is a good idea to raise the standards and have a certain goal, however specific lessons and methods of teaching should be left to the teachers.