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Online only: Webinar for parents to navigate school curriculum changes

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 10:52 a.m. CDT

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois PTA are hosting a Back-to-School Webinar for parents at 7 p.m. Sept. 9. State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch and Illinois PTA President Peg Staehlin will talk about statewide education initiatives and discuss the importance of family engagement and how parents can build better, more effective relationships with their children’s schools during this inaugural one-hour event.  

Registration is available online at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/185876249

“Parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers, so their involvement in a student’s schooling is vital for academic achievement,” Koch said. “Research continues to show that when families value learning and take an active role in their child’s development both at home and at school, their child is more likely to succeed and their schools are more likely to thrive as a result.”  

The webinar will cover what classroom instruction looks like under the continued implementation of the new, more rigorous learning standards in English language arts and math, which require students to master specific concepts and be able to apply that knowledge to real-world situations. New physical education goals are also now in place and newly adopted science benchmarks will debut in 2016-17. 

ISBE, along with two advisory task forces, will soon begin work to update standards for social studies and the arts to ensure all students receive a well-rounded education.

The Illinois PTA partnered with ISBE to distribute  Parent Guides for kindergarten through high school to help families understand the new standards. The guides give parents clear expectations for what their students should be learning at each grade level to be considered on track for college and career readiness. 

“We’re excited to collaborate with ISBE on this first parent webinar,’’ said Staehlin. “Research repeatedly confirms that involved and informed parents are a key component to the success of students and their schools.”

The webinar will also discuss the rollout this year of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) system, what these tests look like and the information they generate about student learning. These exams replace the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) and are the first statewide assessment to fully align with the new standards. The PARCC system aims to better reflect classroom lessons and experiences than the state’s previous tests. Questions will require students to analyze information and explain their answers as opposed to simply selecting the correct response. 

Starting this spring, students in grades 3-8 will take PARCC exams in both English language arts and math. At the high school level, students this year can take two of three available PARCC tests:  Algebra II or Integrated Math III and English Language Arts III. The high school PARCC tests will be given at the completion of courses that contain the corresponding standards rather than at the end of a specific grade year. Districts may also administer the ACT+Writing and WorkKeys on a state test administration date at no cost to students or the district. 

This school year, ISBE will also continue its efforts to help schools work more effectively with parents. The agency has developed guidance for helping schools nurture meaningful and productive partnerships with families. 

Key resources for next week’s Back-to-School Webinar include:  

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