From The Homefront: Learn about Common Core Standards in forum
By Bob Fischer For The Sun January 16, 2013 5:34PM
Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer/Naperville Sun 2009.01.19 Monday, Aurora Studio-- Head Shot of Naperville Sun Business Columnist Bob Fischer
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:56PM
As an “empty nester,” about the only time I think about our public schools is when it comes time to pay real estate taxes. My thoughts focus on dollars, involve a lot of grumbling, and end with my signature on a check where more than 70 percent goes to the local school district.
Do not misunderstand; I think public education is a great thing. We all need to invest in it to maintain our home values and keep our city as a place people want to live.
Winds of change are sweeping through education, though, and I am not convinced most of us understand, or are even aware of what is happening.
With almost 56 percent of Naperville households without kids younger than 18, many of us paying the bills are not the primary audience receiving information on how and where the money is spent. School districts do not do a good job communicating with those of us in the majority, as their outreach is focused on parents as their primary stakeholders. Given this, I wonder how many of we, the investors in education, have ever heard of the Common Core Standards?
Progress for students is measured by a number of metrics, including test scores, graduation rates, college admission levels and more. Standardized testing, both nationally and statewide, provides apples to apples comparisons on how well the message is being received and processed in the classroom. Historically, much of this measurement and the baselines for achievement have been specific to individual states.
In June 2011, K-12 Common Core Standards were introduced and these have now been adopted in 45 states. Built by educators, internationally benchmarked, and based on current research into what students need to know, Common Core Standards set the bar for achievement expected at each grade level. They are designed to prepare students for college and careers. English language arts and mathematics standards are in place. Science and social sciences are still being developed.
Common Core Standards can be game changers. Meeting the mandates will require changes in how and what students are taught. Roll out will take time as textbooks are changed, new assessment methods (standardized testing) developed, and teachers prepared to instruct with an eye toward achieving the newly established goals. As a taxpayer, I am concerned about the implementation and ongoing costs, and many parents may be wondering how to prepare their kids.
To better understand what is on the horizon, on Jan. 24 the Homeowners Confederation will sponsor a Common Core Standards Forum at 7 p.m. in the Naperville City Council Chambers. School Districts 203 and 204 will be there to talk about the new standards and answer audience questions. The confederation hopes this session will provide a heads-up for all the stakeholders, with or without children in the educational system, on what is coming to our neighborhood schools. If you cannot be in attendance, it will be on TV, too. Details are at www.napervillehomeowners.com. Come out to get a glimpse of the future.
Bob Fischer is vice president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.