Taking It Slow: When it comes to putting their state's 3-year-old academic standards into practice, Illinois educators appear to be in no great hurry.
The second annual evaluation of schools' implementation of the Illinois Learning Standards concludes that fewer than one in five schools in the state have started the transition to an instructional program based on the standards.
The rest, or 81 percent, were found to be in the exploration stage, characterized by "minimal" integration of the standards into the classroom and only some consideration of them in professional development, curriculum, and textbook selection.
Schools are starting to make use of the standards, the report concludes, but only "slowly, cautiously, and conservatively."
Conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the latest evaluation, which the state board of education made public Sept. 20, found that 19 percent of schools had started the transition to a standards-based system, compared with 15 percent the year before.
State Superintendent Glenn W. "Max" McGee and board members said they welcomed that progress but would have preferred schools to be further along. To that end, the state officials are taking several steps to heighten understanding of the standards, including holding dozens of public "schoolhouse meetings" and disseminating examples of student work based on the standards.
One obstacle to progress, the report says, is that many educators remain unconvinced that using the standards will yield higher student scores on state assessments introduced following adoption of the standards in 1997.
"Unless this link becomes more firmly established in the minds of teachers and administrators, the increased implementation activity witnessed this year may be little more than a superficial altering of curriculum with very limited impact upon instruction and student learning," the report says.
Vol. 20, Issue 5, Page 18