PCHS Among First to Offer Common Core Math

Common Core Math Standard Moves to Southern Illinois

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Randy Livingston

PINCKNEYVILLE -- There's a big change happening in Illinois schools as the state moves toward the Common Core Standard system. So far, Pinckneyville High School is the only district in our area that has fully made the jump in Core math. Switching to the Core standard means a new curriculum, a whole new state assessment for students, and a lot of planning at the local school district level.

School officials are hoping a shake-up in how they teach mathematics could lead to a better understanding of the subject and get students more engaged

"I think the biggest difference is making kids think," says Integrated Math One teacher Adrienne Wilson.

Wilson says she no longer uses textbooks with page after page of problems. She says Core math uses real life situations and requires students to delve into problems and show exactly how to solve them.

"Before, when I was doing math or maybe you, the teacher said we're going to do it this way and this was the way to do it," explains Wilson. "That's not the case. We want kids to think and we want kids to be creative. As long as it's sound and works every single time, absolutely."

Core math is not taught in individual subjects like geometry and algebra. Teachers blend several concepts together throughout the year.

Principal Dustin Foutch says this kind of math is not easy, but it's necessary to get students prepared for college.

"It's more rigorous math. I mean the math concepts together are simply just more difficult. To be able to combat that, we do have a math intensive study hall the last hour of the day for kids to get an extra 45 minutes of help. We have two free math tutoring rooms."

Illinois officials are also pushing the state toward Common Core, officially adopting the standard back in 2010. Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon is a big advocate, but says many schools and the state still have a long way to go to make the transition that relies heavily on digital technology.

"Change is not always welcomed with open arms, but I think this is a change, particularly since it focuses on college and career readiness, that's going to be be very meaningful," says Simon.

One problem with the system, Illinois still does not have a state-wide assessment for the Core Standard. Officials are working on it, though, and several local school districts plan on participating in a pilot test next semester.

As for other local schools, Carbondale High School is concerned about seeing a state-wide assessment before going ahead with the transition. Harrisburg is concerned about funding. Officials don't have the money for either new textbooks or computers to do this kind work, especially since the assessment will all be online. It poses a logistical problem for their small computer lab. Marion and Carterville have actually teamed up this week and are going through staff development training in the Core standard. Marion is slowly implementing it, but officials say it will take a few years to have it fully up and running.

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