WHAT ARE LEARNING STANDARDS?

WHO DECIDES ON LEARNING STANDARDS?

HOW HAVE LEARNING STANDARDS CHANGED?

WHAT IS CURRICULUM?

WHO DECIDES ON CURRICULUM?

HOW HAS CURRICULUM CHANGED?

WHAT IS ASSESSMENT?

WHO DECIDES ON ASSESSMENT?

HOW HAS ASSESSMENT CHANGED?

Learning standards, curriculum, and assessments all work together to create an integrated learning system.

Click on the questions on the left to learn more.

WHAT ARE LEARNING STANDARDS?

Learning standards are the goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. They help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while also helping parents understand what is expected of their children.

In 2010, our state adopted new Illinois Learning Standards for math and English Language Arts that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. These lay out the descriptions of what students should know at the end of each grade.

WHO DECIDES ON LEARNING STANDARDS?

The Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by over 40 states and are the basis for the new Illinois Learning Standards were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers with input from teachers, parents, school administrators, content experts, and state leaders. Each state individually decides on their learning standards; there are no “national learning standards.”

HOW HAVE LEARNING STANDARDS CHANGED?

The new Illinois Learning Standards are higher, clearer, and deeper than we had before. They encourage more critical thinking and analytical problem solving.

EXAMPLE – LEARNING STANDARDS FOR MATH (5TH GRADE):

OLD LEARNING STANDARD:

Solve one- and two-step problems involving whole numbers, fractions, and decimals using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

[IL BM 6B2]

NEW LEARNING STANDARD:

Explain why multiplying a given number by a fraction greater than 1 results in a product greater than the given number (recognizing multiplication by whole numbers greater than 1 as a familiar case); explaining why multiplying a given number by a fraction less than 1 results in a product smaller than the given number; and relating the principle to fraction equivalence a/b=(nxa)(nxb) to the effect of multiplying a/b by 1.

[5.NF – 5b]

WHAT IS CURRICULUM?

Curriculum is the lessons and academic content taught in school. While learning standards indicate where a student should be at the end of the school year, curriculum is how the students will get there.

Think of learning standards as a destination (e.g., I need to get to Chicago) and curriculum as the way to get there (e.g., I could take a train, drive on the highway, drive on local streets, or take a bus). Curriculum is where creativity comes in – there are many ways a teacher can present subject matter to achieve proficiency in a learning standard.

WHO DECIDES ON CURRICULUM?

Individual schools and districts decide on what curriculum they want to teach to achieve proficiency in the Illinois Learning Standards. There is no mandated national or state curriculum for the new learning standards.

HOW HAS CURRICULUM CHANGED?

Curriculum has been changed to reflect the new learning standards in some significant ways.

In English Language Arts, there is a greater emphasis on:

• Literacy building across all subject areas.
• Reading and understanding non-fiction and informational text.
• Developing research skills.
• Writing to argue, inform, and explain to prepare students for college-level writing.

In math, there is an enhanced focus on:

• Deeper understanding of fewer topics, with more generalizing and linking of concepts.
• Conceptual understanding and procedural fluency of core math concepts staring in the
early grades.
• Mastery of complex concepts in higher math via hands-on learning.

WHAT IS ASSESSMENT?

Assessment encompasses the wide variety of methods that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness and skill acquisition of their students.

WHO DECIDES ON ASSESSMENT?

The state mandates one assessment each year. Any additional assessments given in a school are decided upon by the district, school, and teachers.

HOW HAS ASSESSMENT CHANGED?

The statewide standardized test, the ISAT, will be replaced in spring 2015 by the PARCC assessment. PARCC has been created by a consortium of states and will align with the new Illinois Learning Standards. It will assess proficiency in the standards by assessing not only what students have learned, but also how they can apply it to answer questions and solve problems rather than just asking them to “fill in the bubble.” PARCC is designed to be taken online (though there is a pencil and paper version), so it will be more engaging and interactive for students than a traditional test.

EXAMPLES – OLD TEST VS. NEW TEST

See the PARCC difference for yourself:

MATH OUTGOING STATE TEST – 5TH GRADE EXAMPLE

The town of La Paz, Bolivia, is in the Andes mountains. Which of these units could be used to describe the distance of the town of La Paz above sea level?

A. Degrees
B. Feet
C. Cubic inches
D. Pounds

PARCC TEST – 5TH GRADE EXAMPLE

Mr. Edmunds shared 12 pencils among his four sons as follows:

• Alan received 1/3 of the pencils
• Bill received 1/4 of the pencils
• Carl received more than 1 pencil
• David received more pencils than Carl

Part A: On the number line, represent the fraction of the total number of pencils that was given to both Alan and Bill combined. Use the buttons on the right to increase or decrease the number of equal sections on the number line.

Part B: What fraction of the total number of pencils did Carl and David each receive? Justify your answer.

WRITING PROMPT ON AN OLD, OUTGOING STATE TEST – 3RD GRADE EXAMPLE

Read the writing prompt below and complete the writing activity:

“Jump out of bed! Look out the window! It is a perfect weather day!”

Write a story about a day when the weather seemed perfect.

PARCC WRITING PROMPT – 3RD GRADE EXAMPLE

You have read two texts about famous people in American history who solved a problem by working to make a change.

Write an article for your school newspaper describing how Eliza and Carver faced challenges to change something in America.

In your article, be sure to describe in detail why some solutions they tried worked and others did not work.

Tell how the challenges each one faced were the same and how they were different.