Evaluating testing methods within Common Core is one issue that Corrissa Smith will look into if she is elected to the District 91 Forest Park elementary school board in the April 7 election.

Smith, an administrative assistant for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, will run unopposed for a seat on the D91 school board.

The candidate said she has mostly heard complaints from voters about Common Core testing methods as she gathered election petitions. Some voters, she said, complained about poorly framed questions on the assessment while others complained that the rigorous test takes away from instruction time.

“Most people didn’t think its testing method was effective, but I want to learn for myself,” she said. “So far, I haven’t seen any negatives. The percentiles of [D91] reading and math were pretty good.”

The new Common Core Standards establishes higher and clearer expectations for what students should be learning in English, language arts and mathematics, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Teachers and administrators in the state implemented the new standards during the 2013-2014 school year.

The 2014 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will replace the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) and will include items that are 100 percent aligned to the Common Core standards. 

Smith, a single mother of four children, also wants to evaluate different learning and teaching methods within D91.

Her 25-year-old daughter Neitra has a learning disability and is an auditory learner. 

“She learns slower than the other kids in the class and that’s why I’m interested in seeing how academic programming works,” Smith said.

Smith said Neitra didn’t get the help she needed while attending Chicago Public Schools and that she was released from the Illinois Department of Human Services Open Door Program, which assists individuals with programs such as child care, education and employment training.

“They let her go so easily and said her attention span wasn’t good. She still needed to learn skills to work a job,” Smith said. “Don’t take her out of it; give her the skills that will help her stay on the job.”

Smith had sent Neitra to Michigan for school to receive the proper education she didn’t get at Chicago schools. That is similar to an issue many Forest Park parents face when deciding if they should send their children to schools in Proviso Township’s District 209 high schools.

“Parents moving their kids out has been happening a long time. I’m totally for it,” Smith said. “Does that make them a bad parent? No. Everyone wants what is best for their kid.”

Since all of her children attended Chicago schools, Smith said she can’t fully engage on what needs improvement within D91.

“I can’t pinpoint any weaknesses or strengths,” she said.