Summer 2015

  • To meet students' needs—and the demands of new standards—District 15 must adopt new curricular materials.

    Scott Thompson Over the past several years, District 15 teachers and administrators have worked hard to break down the new Common Core State Standards for English, language arts, and math, and implement them in our classrooms with our students. This work—and our ongoing preparation for the coming adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the soon-to-be-developed social studies standards—has revealed a need for the District to develop a plan for adopting new curricular materials in all of these subject areas.

    New materials need to be adopted because the new standards require content and skills to be taught in a different sequence than the 1997 Illinois State Standards that were previously in use in Illinois' public schools. Our teachers have done a wonderful job of using our existing materials and a wide variety of online and teacher-made resources as they have worked to incorporate these new standards into their instruction. Still, a formal adoption of curricular materials is overdue and must be completed in order to adequately prepare our students for success after they leave the District.

    The following timeline shows when the first steps in the process of adopting new curricular materials are set to occur for each subject. This process begins with materials in each curricular area being researched to ensure they meet our high standards. Those making the grade will be piloted throughout the District. After the pilot, decisions will be made on the specific set of materials that will be implemented Districtwide and then evaluated throughout the years they are used.

    • 2015-16: Math Grades K-8 and Science Grades 6-8
    • 2016-17: Science Grades K-5 and Reading Grades K-8
    • 2017-18: Social Studies Grades K-8

    As we undertake this effort, the District must keep in mind several key facets to a successful curriculum adoption cycle. We must continue to research best practices for teaching and learning within each of these subject areas. We must be sure that all materials considered for piloting and implementation are rigorous in nature and have a research base. All materials must possess both formative assessments, which check for understanding during learning, and summative assessments, which validate that a skill has been mastered at the end of a unit. And we must work closely with our high school districts to make sure our curricula are aligned to provide a smooth and successful transition for all students.

    Finally, as we adopt new curriculum materials, we must refine instruction in ways that help our teachers use them to effectively implement best practices in their classrooms with their students. By equipping each of our 20 schools with consistent curricular materials in English, language arts, math, science, and social studies, the District will be able to provide teachers with targeted professional development that will enhance their abilities to deliver the curriculum and meet the challenges presented by all of these rigorous new standards.

    The goal of these new standards is for all students to be "college and career ready" at the end of their high school experience. Just like the world we live in, the profession of educating children grows more and more sophisticated with each passing day. Consequently, reaching that lofty goal is more challenging than it has ever been. I am, however, confident that this curriculum work will place the District, its dedicated and skilled teachers, and the students we serve each and every day in the best possible position to successfully achieve that goal.

    Sincerely,  

    Scott B. Thompson, Ed.D.
    Superintendent of Schools