Focus on the Common Core

Article excerpt

Byline: Madhu Krishnamurthy mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com

"There's a lot of confusion about the Common Core standards," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union, after a tour of Des Plaines schools Wednesday.

Van Roekel met with the Daily Herald Editorial Board to discuss the new Common Core State Standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia to better prepare students for college or a job. Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Virginia are the only states that have not adopted the standards, while Minnesota has adopted only the English standards.

Van Roekel talked about the differences between Common Core and the controversial No Child Left Behind law, which set new mandates on measuring districts' success through annual testing, yearly academic progress, report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes.

Common Core is a state-led initiative that is neither part of nor replaces No Child Left Behind. Adoption of the standards is not mandatory.

"No Child Left Behind introduced a lot of high-stakes standardized testing," Van Roekel said. "I see Common Core as very separate from that."

Common Core sets grade by grade benchmarks for reading and math skills that students must master from kindergarten through high school. …