Community Schools & Common Core: Resource for Understanding and Reinforcing New Learning Standards
As many of you know by now, Illinois (and almost every other state in the country) is making the shift to Common Core 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. Although the transition is taking place over time, on this year's ISAT test - which students will take in March - approximately 20% of the questions will be Common Core questions. In addition, the ISAT proficiency score cut-off points are being adjusted, and with that adjustment, many schools are concerned about reduced ratings.
If you haven't already undertaken activities and initiatives to support students, parents and teachers with understanding and adjusting to Common Core standards, February is a great time to start! Undertaking activities that support students' transition to Common Core Standards and prepare them for new items on the ISAT also offer opportunities to enhance some elements of your community school work. Because of the rigor of the new standards, out-of-school time programs must incorporate common core, as well. This will require resource coordinators and community school teams to develop an understanding of the new standards, and to access supports that they can use to infuse out-of-school time activities with common core standards. Click here for a guide that aligns Common Core standards with classroom activities, out-of-school time programs, and parent workshops.
There are several ways that community schools can support school progress through these changes:
1) Engage parents as partners in the transition to Common Core. Hold workshops about the new Common Core standards and about the changes to the ISAT; include this information in newsletters, updates, communications, etc. for parents. Also provide parents with tools and strategies that they can use to help their children with this transition - including activities that parents can do at home to reinforce the Common Core standards. For a guide to Common Core standards that can be used in parent workshops, click here.
2) Collaborate with teachers on ways to include activities in the extended day programs that give students opportunities to master the new Common Core reading standards. Have students dramatize the stories they read or illustrate the social studies and science sections they read in the classroom; provide strategies for out-of-school time program staff to use "common core" language. For an example of how to integrate Common Core standards into arts-based programming, click here.
3) Work with teachers and staff to expand (or create) a math learning center in which students play games that reinforce the math knowledge they need on ISAT. Use out-of-school time to provide expanded learning opportunities that are linked to the math Common Core standards being taught in the classroom.
In collaboration with the Federation, the Polk Bros. Foundation Center for Urban Education has prepared resources for work with students in extended day programs and parent workshops that you can use to enhance your efforts around the transition to Common Core and provide students with ISAT support.
Have other ideas about how your community school colleagues can support the transition to and mastery of the new Common Core standards? Share them with us here!
Resource Binder for Community Schools in Illinois
We hope you find this binder useful in your ongoing work at your community school. The Federation will update this section throughout the year, replacing some components and adding new ones. By working together with the same background of information, we will succeed in changing policies that lead to sustainability and expansion of community schools throughout Illinois, so that children succeed in school and life.
Chapter 1: Advocacy
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