Implementing the Common Core and Pre-K-12 Continuum: How Districts and Schools are Responding

December 14, 2011

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From left to right: Jeff Nelsen, Sonja Brookins Santelises, Kim Zalent, and Fernando Kim (not pictured: Jennifer Cheatham)

Adopted last year by Illinois and 43 other states, the Common Core State Standards are an ambitious effort to raise the bar of K–12 student achievement to one that is on par with the best education systems in the world. Illinois is part of a 26-state consortium that is developing a new testing system for implementation in 2014–15. It is expected to show that students statewide have a lot further to go than ISAT exams have suggested.

The new CPS administration has embraced the Common Core as a reform centerpiece and plans to implement the new standards district-wide in 2012–13, one year earlier than required. A related reform goal is to create an integrated preschool-to-12th-grade ("Pre-K–12") system so that teaching and learning move steadily from the start toward college and career readiness. The sweeping overhaul of the central and field offices is aimed at that goal.

Many educators are enthusiastic about how the new Common Core standards promote deep learning and critical thinking across multiple grades. Others worry about how the new demands for accelerated learning will affect the early grades and connect to the Illinois Early Learning Standards for Pre-K. Realizing the full promise of the new standards in every classroom for every student will be a daunting undertaking.

In our 2011 Chicago School Policy Forum Series, key leaders will discuss where the standards came from, how they will be measured, and what they could mean for educators, parents, schools, districts, and other stakeholders.  Speakers for this final talk in the series are Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief academic officer at Baltimore City Public Schools, and Jeff Nelsen from Targeted Leadership Consulting. Jennifer Cheatham, chief of instruction at Chicago Public Schools, Kiltae Fernando Kim, principal at Lloyd Elementary School, and Kim Zalent, director of the public education program at BPI, respond to the speakers with their own comments and insights.

Recorded Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at the Union League Club of Chicago.