Superintendent’s Column – District 54 teachers work to meet community’s high expectations

Posted Friday, October 26th, 2012

It has become increasingly popular, especially in certain political arenas, to make comments regarding the perceived unwillingness of public school employees to be held accountable for student learning. This perception could not be farther from the truth in School District 54. Our staff welcomes the high expectations that our parents and community require of them.

Our union leaders have worked collaboratively with district and school administrators to develop a rigorous evaluation process that holds teachers accountable for making high levels of student learning occur in every classroom across the district.

Last May, our teaching staff overwhelmingly approved a new evaluation tool that helps to ensure District 54 students are taught by exceptional professionals. This tool clearly delineates the types of professional teaching practices that are expected to be evident on a daily basis in every classroom.

Each teacher receives regular feedback regarding what is working well and any areas in need of improvement. Teachers who need to strengthen their skills in a particular area are monitored more closely and provided with additional assistance. For this small group of teachers to remain employed by District 54, substantial improvement must be seen and demonstrated.

Similar to every successful business, our staff members engage in continuous learning to enhance their skills with the ultimate goal of improving their end product – in our case, high levels of student learning. Teachers regularly collaborate with colleagues to refine their teaching and learn additional strategies to better meet the needs of their students. Being held accountable for student learning is not new to our teachers. Therefore, an evaluation tool that strengthens and expands this expectation was readily accepted.

District 54 has been told that its evaluation process has helped to raise the bar for other school districts across the state. It is not surprising, given the dedication of our staff and their commitment to continuous improvement, that our teachers overwhelmingly approved one of the most rigorous evaluation systems used in Illinois today.

Likewise, our administrators are utilizing a new evaluation tool that goes well above the minimum requirements of the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA), which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law. PERA requires that a portion of the final overall rating for a teacher’s performance must be based on student growth data.

Most districts adopted the minimum 25% level. This was not the case in District 54. Knowing how committed and accountable our administrators are to providing quality educational opportunities, it was not surprising that they unanimously supported basing 50% of their overall performance rating on student growth, the maximum allowed in PERA. As with our evaluation system for teachers, the administrator evaluation process is considered to be one of the most demanding in Illinois.

The high level of student achievement taking place in District 54 is by no means an accident. Our staff set extremely high professional standards for themselves, are fully accepting of the expectations that our parents and community have placed on them, and willingly take responsibility for ensuring the success of every student.

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Distrito 54 maestros que trabajan para satisfacer las altas expectativas de la comunidad

Posted Friday, October 26th, 2012

Se ha vuelto cada vez más popular, especialmente en ciertos espacios políticos, hacer comentarios sobre la falta de disposición percibida de los empleados de las escuelas públicas de hacerse responsables del aprendizaje del estudiante. Esta percepción no podría estar más lejos de la verdad en el Distrito 54. Nuestro personal da la bienvenida a las altas expectativas que nuestros padres y la comunidad requieren.

Nuestros líderes sindicales han trabajado en colaboración con los administradores del distrito y la escuela para desarrollar un proceso de evaluación riguroso que hace a los maestros responsables de lograr altos niveles de aprendizaje para los estudiantes y de hacer que esto ocurra en cada salón de clases en todo el distrito.

En mayo pasado, nuestro personal docente aprobó por abrumadora mayoría una nueva herramienta de evaluación que ayuda a asegurar que los estudiantes del Distrito 54 sean educados por profesionales excepcionales. Esta herramienta define claramente los tipos de prácticas de enseñanza profesional que se espera sea evidente a diario en todos los salones de clases.

Cada maestro recibe información periódica sobre lo que está funcionando bien y en las áreas que necesita mejorar. Los maestros que necesitan reforzar sus habilidades en un área en particular son supervisados más de cerca y se les provee ayuda adicional. Para que este pequeño grupo de maestros permanezca empleado por el Distrito 54, se debe ver y demostrar un mejoramiento sustancial.

Al igual que todos los negocios exitosos, nuestros empleados participan en el aprendizaje continuo para mejorar sus habilidades con el único fin de mejorar el producto final que en nuestro caso, son los altos niveles de aprendizaje para los estudiantes. Los maestros regularmente colaboran con sus colegas para perfeccionar su enseñanza y aprender estrategias adicionales para satisfacer mejor las necesidades de sus estudiantes. Ser responsables por el aprendizaje del estudiante no es nuevo para nuestros maestros. Por lo tanto, la utilización de una herramienta de evaluación que fortalece y expande esta expectativa fue rápidamente aceptada.

El Distrito 54 ha sido informado que el proceso de evaluación ha contribuido a elevar la barra para todos los distritos escolares en todo el estado. No es de sorprenderse, dada la dedicación de nuestro personal y su compromiso con la mejora continua, que nuestros maestros aprobaron abrumadoramente uno de los sistemas de evaluación más rigurosos utilizados hoy en Illinois.

Del mismo modo, nuestros administradores están utilizando una nueva herramienta de evaluación que va más allá de los requisitos mínimos de la Ley de Reforma de Evaluación del Desempeño (PERA), que fue aprobada por la Asamblea General de Illinois y firmada como ley. PERA requiere que una parte de la calificación final general del desempeño de un profesor debe basarse en los datos de crecimiento del estudiante.

La mayoría de los distritos adoptó el nivel mínimo del 25%. Este no fue el caso en el Distrito 54. Conociendo lo comprometidos y responsables que son nuestros administradores para proporcionar oportunidades educativas de calidad, no fue sorprendente que apoyaran unánimemente el 50% de basar su valoración sobre el desempeño global de crecimiento de los estudiantes, el máximo permitido en PERA. Como en nuestro sistema de evaluación para maestros, el proceso de evaluación para administradores es considerado uno de los más exigentes en Illinois.

El alto nivel de rendimiento que tienen los estudiantes en el Distrito 54 de ninguna manera es un accidente. Nuestro personal establece estándares profesionales muy altos para sí mismos, están aceptando plenamente las expectativas que nuestros padres y la comunidad han puesto sobre ellos, y no dudan en tener la responsabilidad de asegurar el éxito de cada estudiante.

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District 54 estimates 2012 levy

Posted Thursday, October 18th, 2012

The District 54 School Board approved a resolution estimating its 2012 tax levy at $158,813,264, exclusive of debt service. The requested 2012 levy is 1.97 percent higher than the 2011 final extended levy of $155,737,584.

The tax rate is subject to the tax cap legislation. The most District 54 can receive from existing property owners is 3 percent more than last year’s levy; however, the increase may be less. School districts also receive additional property taxes from new construction. Last year’s growth in new construction was 0.21 percent of the prior year EAV in District 54. However, property owners may notice a greater increase on their property tax bills, based on the Cook County assessment process.

In addition to the tax levy for programs and services, the District 54 aggregate levy usually would include an amount necessary to retire a portion of the principal and interest on our bonds. The School Board has elected to forgo the issuance of bonds to pay for upcoming capital needs, instead using accumulated reserves to pay for those projected costs. The Bond & Interest levy was $9,409,050 in the 2010 levy, $0 in the 2011 levy and will be $0 again in the 2012 levy.

A public hearing will be held on the estimated levy at 7 p.m., Nov. 15, 2012, in the boardroom at the District Office at 524 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. For more information, please call Ric King, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, at (847) 357-5011.

Donate at PTA Blood Drive Oct. 23

Posted Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The Schaumburg Township Council of PTA’s is helping Heartland sponsor a blood drive on Tuesday, Oct. 23. It will be held from 1:30-6:30 p.m. in the board room at the School District 54 Administration Center, 524 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg.

Anyone between the ages of 17 and 75 who weighs at least 110 pounds can participate.

A minimum of 500 pints of blood is needed every day for patients in area hospitals, according to Heartland. The Council of PTA’s hosts blood drives each year to help meet these needs.

To make an appointment, visit www.heartlandbc.org and click on Schedule an Appointment. Walk-ins are also acceptable.

For more information about this blood drive or to sign up to be a donor, please contact Laurie Fetterman, Health and Safety Chairperson of the PTA Council, (630) 855-3366 or by email at LJFetterman@yahoo.com.

Public input invited on new writing instruction materials

Posted Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Community members are invited to provide feedback on writing instructional materials under consideration for adoption in School District 54. The three programs being considered are

  • Benchmark Writer’s Workshop from the Benchmark Education Company
  • Traits Writing from Scholastic
  • Being a Writer from the Developmental Studies Center

To preview the materials, visit the Rauch Center at 520 E. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg. You will be given an evaluation form to complete as you preview the materials. Wednesday, Nov. 14, will be the final day for material evaluation. Materials are on display from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Rauch Center.

Materials are also being reviewed by the District Citizen Advisory Committee, District 54 teachers, support staff and administrators.

School Zone Newsletter – October 2012

Posted Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Click here to read the School Zone Newsletter for October 2012 which contains a column from Board President Teresa Huber, as well as a story about seven Those Who Excel awards District 54 received from the Illinois State Board of Education and information about our January open enrollment fair.

Run to Read thanks

Posted Sunday, October 7th, 2012

School District 54 would like to thank the many sponsors, donors, volunteers and participants that made the Run to Read 2012 a huge success.

The event – held Sept. 23 at Dirksen School in Schaumburg – raised more than $8,500 to support literacy in School District 54. Our goal is to collect 1,000 children’s books for every classroom in District 54. Many individuals brought books to the race to support our cause. More than 660 people turned out to participate in the 5K race, the 1-mile family fun walk or the 100- and 400-yard dashes for children. Another 80 people volunteered to work at the event and countless others were there to cheer on a family member or friend.

District 54 thanks the following sponsors of our event: the Campanelli YMCA, Premier Credit Union, Dick Pond Athletics, Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Schaumburg,  Hemisphere Educational Travel and Advanced Chiropractic Health Services.

Several businesses also made donations and deserve our thanks:  the Academy of Athletic Advancement, the Chicago Wolves, Emergen-C, Mathnasium of Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates Park District, Office Depot, the Schaumburg Township District Library, Gameworks, Spirit of America Car Washes, the Hancock Observatory and Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire.

A special thank you to Sue Gruhlke who donated a $100 Whole Foods gift card for the drawing and to the Dirksen Boy Scouts who passed out information about the event to every home on our route.

Next year’s Run to Read will be held on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, at Dirksen School. Online registration is already available at http://sd54.org/runtoread. If you are interested in attending or sponsoring the event, visit the website or contact Terri McHugh at (847) 357-5028 or TerriMcHugh@sd54.org.

Race Results can be found at http://sd54.org/runtoread.

District 54 shares 2012 state and district assessment results

Posted Thursday, October 4th, 2012

District 54 is proud to announce that the majority of our students met or exceeded state standards based on the state assessments in reading and math given in March 2012: 95.4 percent in math and 91.6 percent in reading.

In addition, 19 schools met the board-adopted goal of at least 90 percent of students at the school meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math, two more schools than last year. Schools scoring above 90 percent in both math and reading are Addams, Blackwell, Campanelli, Churchill, Dirksen, Dooley, Eisenhower, Frost, Hale, Link, MacArthur, Nerge and Stevenson.

Six additional schools had at least 95 percent of students meeting and exceeding state standards in both reading and math. They are Collins, Fairview, Fox, Hoover, Lincoln Prairie and Mead.

Karen Hindman, assistant superintendent of district improvement, shared the results from three mandatory state tests – the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), the Illinois Alternative Assessment (IAA) and the ACCESS test for English Language Learners – as well as Measures of Academic Progress, an assessment used in District 54 to measure student growth.

All public students in third through eighth grades in Illinois are required to take the ISAT or IAA to determine which schools are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The goal of the law is that all children in the United States will meet or exceed state standards by the 2013-14 school year. This year at least 85 percent of students in each subgroup must meet or exceed standards. Subgroups include racial background, low income, limited English proficient and students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The goal was originally supposed to be 92.5 percent for 2012, but the Illinois State Board of Education received a one-year waiver from the federal government to use the 2011 AYP target of 85 percent.

In 2012, 20 District 54 schools made AYP, including Lakeview Elementary School, which did not make AYP in 2011. To be removed from federal and state improvement status, Lakeview must make AYP for two consecutive years. Therefore, Lakeview was still required to offer its families a choice to attend another school this year. Two students elected to attend Stevenson School instead.

Addams, Aldrin, Einstein, Eisenhower, Enders-Salk, Frost and Keller did not make AYP because one or more of their subgroups did not make AYP. District 54 was also labeled as not making AYP this year, because one subgroup – students with disabilities – did not make the AYP target of 85 percent. Yet three of these schools, and the district as a whole, showed more than 90 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in both reading and math.

In District 54 we also assess student growth in reading and math through Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) three times a year. Teachers use the data from MAP to target their instruction for each student and also to plan intervention and enrichment activities to ensure all students continue to grow academically.

Because MAP scores are correlated to the ISAT test, students who score at 40 percent or above have a very high probability of meeting and exceeding state standards on ISAT. In 2012, 83.6 percent of District 54 students achieved a score of 40 percent or higher on the reading MAP assessment and 80.9 percent of students achieved a score of 40 percent or higher on the math MAP assessment.

District 54 also administered the mCLASS: CIRCLE assessment to students in the early childhood program. This assessment includes a math screener, phonological awareness and rapid letter naming.

Our English Language Learners (ELL) take the ACCESS exam. which measures a student’s to speak, listen, read and write in English. In 2012, 25.8 percent of District 54 ELL students attained proficiency in English. The state target is only 9 percent. That translates into 507 District 54 students who were transitioned out of bilingual programming.

The 2012 assessment data provides solid evidence that student achievement in District 54 continues to improve. However, District 54 is focused on continuing to improve the achievement of all students. Some of our action plans for the 2012-13 school year to meet that goal include the following:

  • Implement the MAP assessment, which was aligned to the Common Core Standards this fall;
  • Continue to implement the kindergarten through second grade Literacy Plan;
  • Continue to implement the English Language Learning Instructional Framework;
  • Continue to implement the enrichment/intervention block with a focus on enrichment; and
  • Implement STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming through Project Lead the Way.

To view District 54’s report cards, visit http://sd54.org/schoolreportcards/. For the complete report presented at the board meeting, visit http://www.boarddocs.com/il/sd54/Board.nsf/Public.

District 54 helps to break world record for reading

Posted Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, School District 54 joined Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, a national campaign designed to break the world record for the largest shared reading experience ever, while also working to break the cycle of illiteracy.

All 64 early childhood classes and 92 kindergarten classes at District 54’s 22 elementary schools participated by having their teachers or other guests read Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman and Jacky Davis. Although the official Read for the Record Day was Oct. 4, District 54 participated on Oct. 3 due to conferences on Oct. 4.

“The event was a huge success and reinforces our Board Goal of students reading at grade level upon entering third grade by emphasizing the importance of early literacy,” Literacy Director Erin Knoll said.

The 2012 campaign is designed to encourage young people, their families and educators to read. The day’s activities are designed to generate public awareness about the importance of early literacy for long-term academic achievement.

The Pearson Foundation, the sponsor and a founding partner of the campaign, is once again underwriting the cost of the campaign book and helping to organize events nationwide. Pearson presented a special campaign edition of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad to all of District 54’s early childhood and kindergarten teachers so they could participate with their students.

In 2011, 2.2 million people participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record. Jumpstart – through Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Campaign and intensive early education programs – puts books in the homes of children who need them most and focuses on helping them make gains in crucial language and literacy skills. Learn more about this campaign by visiting www.readfortherecord.org.

PTAs to host Candidates’ Forum Oct. 10

Posted Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs invites all community members to a Candidates’ Forum on Oct. 10 at Addams Junior High School, 700 S. Springinsguth Road in Schaumburg.

The candidates from the following state races have been invited to answer questions related to children, education and the future of Illinois. Written questions from the audience will be moderated by the PTA Council.

  • Illinois House District 44 – Rep. Fred Crespo (Democrat) and Ramiro Juarez (Republican)
  • Illinois House District 56 – Rep. Michelle Mussman (Democrat) and John Lawson (Republican)
  • Illinois Senate District 22 – Sen. Michael Noland (Democrat) and Cary Collins (Republican)
  • Illinois Senate District 28 – Sen. Dan Kotowski (Democrat) and Jim O’Donnell (Republican)

This evening will also include the PTA General Meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the Candidates’ Forum at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact PTA Second Vice President Lori Filby at ptalori@filby.net.