Public schools have become a popular target and are often criticized for not challenging students or changing with the times. Opinions that schools are no different today than they were back in 1950 or that educators are not preparing students to be successful in today’s complex world could not be farther from the truth in School District 54.
Our teachers and support staff are committed to helping students learn at increasingly higher levels. Achievement data is analyzed on a continuous basis to determine how effective we are in meeting district goals. The individual growth of each student is monitored at both the school and district levels through the use of grade-level and district-wide assessments. Learning structures are frequently adjusted to meet the needs of an individual or a particular group of students.
Every school provides opportunities for both intervention and enrichment. In addition to protecting the instructional time in each of the core subject areas, each school’s master schedule allows for additional time to provide help to students who need reteaching of specific concepts. Additional learning opportunities are also provided for students who have mastered the grade-level essential outcomes.
In keeping with effective business accountability practices, we have incorporated a 90-day review cycle into our district’s ongoing school improvement process. Every three months, each school is involved in a comprehensive analysis of how well the school is doing in meeting both the school goals and the district goals. Similar to successful businesses, our district constantly looks for better ways to provide the best possible education to our students.
There is growing interest across the country to expand the number of charter schools. Charter schools are often portrayed as the panacea for improving public education. Proponents of the charter school movement believe that giving parents a choice of where they would like their child to attend school will increase competition and in return improve pubic education. Results show that there are strong and weak charter schools, just like there are effective and ineffective public schools.
School choice options are not new to District 54. Even though all 27 of our schools offer outstanding instructional programs, school choice options began more than 10 years ago in our district. As interest in a particular program or instructional approach has grown, our Board of Education has supported additional school choice options.
Currently, six of our schools offer a Spanish-English Dual Language Program and two others offer a Japanese-English Dual Language Program. The goals of these programs are to teach English to non-English speaking students and either Spanish or Japanese to English speaking students. American Sign Language is also offered as part of the regular program at two schools.
Knowing how to speak, read and write in a second language increases the opportunities that become available to students in our rapidly changing world. Years of research continue to show that there are many lifelong benefits to learning a second language as a child.
Six of our schools offer multiage classrooms on a school-wide basis. This type of structure enables the district to provide different types of learning opportunities and greater flexibility in meeting the diverse needs of our students.
Another choice option is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school that incorporates the multiple intelligence philosophy into its daily instructional practices. Students are provided with a variety of learning experiences that are designed to meet their unique learning styles.
The Board of Education recently approved our district’s first Math and Science Academy. This will expand the parental choice options that will be available to our students next year.
Public education is the foundation of what makes our country great. I am proud to say that District 54 will continue to meet head-on the high expectations that our parents and community have placed upon us. We remain committed to delivering a strong educational program that not only prepares our students for success, but also offers a variety of educational choice options to parents and students.