A Publication of WTVP

During the last school year, an estimated 3.3 million high school diplomas were awarded in the United States, yet many students never achieve this milestone. The most current data shows the State of Illinois high school graduation rate as 87.8 percent. Locally, most area high schools are beating the state average, including in District 150, and there are many efforts underway to increase high school graduation rates and prepare students for higher education and the workforce.

One of the steps being taken across the nation to better prepare students for the future is the creation of the new Common Core Standards (CCS). Illinois is one of 44 states that have officially adopted these new standards in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The Common Core Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. The goal is that teachers and parents will have a better idea of what they need to do to help students. According to the CCS Initiative website, the standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

To ensure programs continue to be relevant and to support content standards, Junior Achievement USA (JA) correlates all JA programs to state, national and district educational standards. Since the release of the Common Core Standards in June 2010, JA has correlated all programs to these new standards. As additional subject matter standards are developed, JA will continue to align with them to ensure the relevancy and rigor of JA programs.

According to Instructor Marty Green, East Peoria Community High School, like many other schools, is moving towards fully integrating the common core. “I believe we are ahead of the curve because every student at EPCHS takes the JA Economics course. We also do a great deal to supplement that program by attending East Peoria Chamber of Commerce programs and events. We are also working on exposing students to the opportunities the trades have to offer,” said Green.

EPCHS uses the JA high school economics textbook and student workbook in all economics classes. One of the many Common Core Standards that JA Economics meets is Grades 9-10 Language Standard number six (910.LS.6.): “Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.”

Hopefully these new standards will affect high school graduation rates in Illinois and throughout the nation and ultimately impact the future workforce as well. By providing a more clear definition of the knowledge and skills K-12 students should have, students should be increasingly well prepared to succeed in higher education, the trades and the world of work. iBi