Local Districts Prepare for Common Core Changes

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Benjy Jeffords

PERRY COUNTY -- Illinois wants to start testing on the new learning style during the next school year, but a recent survey shows Illinois teachers may be struggling to prepare.

Illinois schools have already started implementing what's called the Common Core curriculum. It's a set of standards meant for students nationwide.

However, the program has also stirred up a lot of controversy. Indiana has dropped out of the program, and it's up for debate in Missouri. 
 
"The rigor is a little more difficult," said Pinckneyville Community High School Principal Dustin Foutch. "I would say the overall curriculum standards are a little bit more demanding of our kids."
 
Pinckneyville Community High School was one of the first to start the new Math learning. Foutch feels the state has laid out a solid guide on the subject. 
 
"I mean I'm talking a weekly unit plan of all the essential questions that a kid needs to master," said Foutch. 
 
However, Language Arts is a little more complex and still in need of a little work.
 
The district has been preparing teachers with training and workshops. There's also been a search for books and lessons to match the needed skills.
 
"Its going to be an on-going process," said Foutch. 
     
The scenario seems to be the case in many schools across the state. 
 
An Illinois State Board of Education survey in February found that less than 18 percent of teachers felt completely prepared for Common Core. 67 percent said they were only somewhat prepared. 11 percent were not ready at all.
 
You can find the survey results here.
 
The numbers don't surprise Director of Instructional Services Diana Rea.
 
"The old standards had been in place for so many years," said Rea. "We were so comfortable with those."
 
Rea was hired by Du Quoin Schools in 2012 to help with workshops and pick out common core materials.
 
"We haven't bought any new curriculum," said Rea. "We're really waiting and taking some time to look at those."
 
The district plans to change the schedule this fall to give teachers extra prep time.
 
Rea has been explaining the changes through the school newsletter. She doesn't believe parents should be worried about the new standards. 
 
"Another year and I feel like we'll be very confident," said Rea. 
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