ISAT Testing – March 4-15

Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2013

District 54 students in third through eighth grade will take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) March 4 through 15.

This test measures individual student achievement relative to the Illinois Learning Standards.  The 2013 reading and mathematics ISATs will contain items written to the Common Core Standards. About 20 percent of the items on the test were written to the Common Core Standards.

The results give parents, teachers and schools one measure of student learning and school performance. It is required by law for all Illinois public school students. The state assessment scores are used to measure adequate yearly progress (AYP) for all public schools. Scores are published on the School Report Cards yearly.

The Illinois State Board of Education will increase the grading scale for the 2013 ISAT. This change will likely result in a smaller percentage of our students meeting or exceeding standards when the scores of this year’s test are reported in the fall. This does not mean that our students or teachers are any less capable than they were in previous years. Rather, Illinois is raising the bar. The adjustment is needed to better inform administrators, teachers, parents and students of students’ progress toward college- and career-readiness.

Click here for a copy of a letter sent to parents by Superintendent Ed Rafferty explaining this change: Superintendent Letter Regarding ISAT Score Change

Students at these grade levels take the following tests:

  • Third Grade – Reading, Math
  • Fourth Grade – Reading, Math, Science
  • Fifth Grade – Reading, Math
  • Sixth Grade – Reading, Math
  • Seventh Grade – Reading, Math, Science
  • Eighth Grade – Reading, Math

Throughout the school year students have been preparing for ISAT tests in their classes; however, test preparation is something that can also been done at home. The following are tips to help you prepare your child for tests of all kinds including the ISAT test.

  • Encourage, don’t pressure – You want to encourage your child to do his best but too much pressure may lead to test anxiety. Remember that standardized tests are just one way schools measure a child’s ability.
  • Give them “brain food” – A healthy breakfast the morning of the test can improve test results. However, foods high in fat or sugar do not provide the nutrients children need to do their best.
  • Put them to bed – Sleepy children have a tough time succeeding academically. It’s particularly important for your child to get a good night’s sleep the night before a big test.
  • Help them prepare – Make sure your child has the supplies needed for the test. These would include sharpened #2 pencils and a calculator.

In addition, help your child understand these important testing tips.

  • Pay attention – Stress that they need to listen to directions closely and to follow written directions exactly.
  • Don’t rush to finish – Make sure they use any extra time to check their answers and complete any questions they left blank.
  • Keep track of the “bubbles” – Remind them that it is very important to make sure they are at the right place on their answer sheet. They should double-check every five or 10 questions, making sure the proper bubbles are being filled in.
  • Skipping is OK – Remind them that they can skip a question and come back to it later.
  • Find the best answer – It’s tempting for children to choose the first answer that looks right. Make sure they understand that several of the answers may seem right, but that they need to choose the one best answer.
  • Aim high – Encourage them to do their best and help them believe that they will do well.

District 54 looks to raise learning bar to meet new standards

Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2013

There is a lot of discussion taking place across the country about the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and what needs to be done at the district and school levels to best prepare teachers and students for the changes that will need to occur. Illinois is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core Standards and is part of a 22-state consortium that is in the process of creating a new high-stakes state assessment. Beginning in the spring of 2015, all Illinois school districts will administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment for students in grades three through eight. This assessment will replace the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) that the students currently take each spring.

The Common Core State Standards in language arts and mathematics are designed to prepare students to be college- and career-ready. They are built on the state learning standards that are currently in use and include additional benchmarks used in other top-performing countries. The new standards were developed to better prepare our students to succeed in a global economy and keep the United States internationally competitive.

The new standards outline what students are expected to know and be able to do at specific grade levels. They are designed to increase student achievement by focusing on essential concepts, knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary for students to succeed in the 21st century.

As students progress through curriculum that is based on the Common Core, they will develop higher-level skills in comprehension and analysis in literacy and mathematic concepts and thus will be better prepared to deal with new and challenging situations. Upper elementary and junior high students will be expected to apply higher order critical-thinking and problem solving skills to deal with real-world challenges and issues.

District 54 welcomes the new standards and has created a comprehensive plan to effectively address the significant changes that will occur over the next several years. Incorporating instructional changes necessitated by the transition to new standards and assessments into our daily teaching will further support our practice of continually raising the bar and increasing expectations for students and staff.

Two separate task forces, one in math and the other in language arts, are currently working on our district’s preparations for the changes coming with the implementation of the new standards and the PARCC assessment. Both task forces are in the process of dissecting the standards, examining the new assessment framework, realigning our current grade-level essential outcomes, identifying potential gaps in our curriculum and assessment practices, creating grade-level-specific instructional supports, and revamping District 54’s early childhood through eighth-grade scope and sequence to ensure alignment with the standards and the PARCC assessment.

Additionally, the Department of Student Learning will offer a variety of professional development sessions for staff during the summer and school year. Teams of teachers will work together to effectively plan lessons which incorporate the new expectations and skills into district instructional practices.

As with any new change, District 54 will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our staff and students are fully prepared to meet the curriculum, instruction and assessment requirements that result from the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and PARCC assessment.

Recently, I wrote an article about the goal-setting process our district has been going through this year. The higher bar that is being set with the change to the standards and the PARCC assessment has been a consideration as we worked through this process. Thank you for the feedback you gave us on the draft of the revised Mission, Vision, Commitments and Goals. The input from our community is greatly appreciated.

En Espanol

El Distrito 54 está buscando aumentar el nivel de aprendizaje para cumplir con los nuevos estándares

Posted Monday, February 25th, 2013

En todo el país se están llevando a cabo una serie de discusiones acerca de la aplicación de las nuevas Normas Comunes Estándares del Estado (CCSS) y lo que hay que hacer a nivel del distrito y de la escuela para preparar mejor a los maestros y estudiantes para los cambios que ocurrirán. Illinois es uno de los 45 estados que han adoptado CCSS y es parte de un consorcio de 22 estados que está en el proceso de la creación de un nuevo sistema de evaluación Estatal de alto rendimiento. A partir de la primavera del 2015, todos los distritos escolares en Illinois administrarán la evaluación  Asociación de Evaluación para Preparación a la Universidad y Carreras (PARCC) para los estudiantes en los grados de tercero a octavo. Esta evaluación sustituirá a la  Prueba de Aprovechamiento de Estándares de Illinois (ISAT) que los estudiantes actualmente toman cada primavera.

Las Normas Comunes Estándares del Estado en las artes del lenguaje y matemáticas están diseñadas para preparar a los estudiantes para la Universidad y para una Carrera. Estas se basan en los estándares de aprendizaje del estado que se encuentran actualmente en uso, e incluyen referencias adicionales utilizadas en otros países de alto desempeño. Las nuevas normas fueron desarrolladas para preparar mejor a nuestros estudiantes para tener éxito en una economía global y mantener a Estados Unidos competitivo a nivel internacional.

Las CCSS definen lo que los estudiantes deben saber y ser capaces de hacer en grados específicos. Están diseñadas para aumentar el logro estudiantil haciendo énfasis en los conceptos básicos, conocimientos, habilidades y comportamientos necesarios para que los estudiantes tengan éxito en el siglo 21.

A medida que los estudiantes progresan a través del plan de estudios que se basa en las CCSS, desarrollarán habilidades de alto nivel en la comprensión y el análisis de la alfabetización y los conceptos matemáticos y así estar mejor preparados para hacer frente a situaciones nuevas y desafiantes. Se espera que los alumnos de grados primarios superiores y los de secundaria apliquen pensamientos de orden crítico y solución de problemas de más alto nivel para hacer frente a los desafíos del mundo real.

El Distrito 54 acoge con satisfacción las CCSS y ha creado un plan integral para abordar de manera efectiva los importantes cambios que se producirán en los próximos años. La incorporación de cambios de instrucción necesarios para la transición a las nuevas normas estatales de aprendizaje y evaluaciones en nuestra enseñanza diaria seguirá apoyando nuestra práctica de elevar continuamente el nivel y aumentar las expectativas de los estudiantes y el personal.

Actualmente dos equipos de trabajo, uno en matemáticas y otro en lenguaje y literatura están trabajando en la preparación de nuestro distrito para los cambios que vienen con la aplicación de las CCSS y la evaluación PARCC. Ambos grupos de trabajo están en el proceso de estudio minucioso de las CCSS, examinando el nuevo marco de evaluación, realineando nuestros resultados esenciales de nivel de grado, identificando posibles brechas en nuestro plan de estudios y las prácticas de evaluación, la creación de su nivel de grado específicos apoyos didácticos. Igualmente trabajarán con la renovación de la secuencia de instrucción del Distrito 54 desde prescolar a octavo grado y para asegurar la alineación con las CCSS y la evaluación PARCC.

Además, el Departamento de Aprendizaje Estudiantil estará ofreciendo una variedad de sesiones y cursos de desarrollo profesional para el personal durante el año escolar y durante todo el verano. Los equipos de maestros también están trabajando juntos para planificar lecciones que incorporan las nuevas expectativas y habilidades en las prácticas educativas del distrito.

Al igual que con cualquier cambio nuevo, el Distrito 54 hará lo que sea necesario para asegurar que nuestro personal y los estudiantes estén totalmente preparados para cumplir con el plan de estudios, la instrucción y los requisitos de evaluación que se derivan de la adopción de la evaluación de las CCSS y PARCC.

Recientemente, escribí un artículo sobre el proceso de fijación de metas que nuestro distrito ha experimentado este año. Las expectativas más altas que se han puesto con el cambio a CCSS y la evaluación PARCC han sido consideradas mientras trabajamos en este proceso. Gracias por los comentarios que aportaron sobre el proyecto de revisión de la Misión, Visión, Objetivos y Compromisos. La contribución de nuestra comunidad es altamente apreciada.

In English

Kindergarten Information Night for English Language Learners – March 5

Posted Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Parents are invited to learn about District 54’s English Language Learners services for kindergarten students during an informational meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in the Keller Junior High School library, 820 Bode Road in Schaumburg.

Teachers and district office staff will be available to discuss various program options and placement for students. In addition, information will be available about the English-Spanish dual language program at Enders-Salk, Hanover Highlands, Link and MacArthur elementary schools and the English-Japanese dual language program at Dooley Elementary School.

You must register your child for kindergarten at your neighborhood school before attending this meeting. You will not be able to register your child at this meeting. For more information about registration, visit our web site at

Interpreters and babysitters will be available. For more information, please contact Julie Colgrove, director of the District 54 Department of Language and Culture, at (847) 357-5075 or

New principals appointed

Posted Friday, February 8th, 2013

The District 54 School Board appointed three new principals for the 2013-14 school year at its Feb. 7 meeting.

Joann Kort – Dirksen School
Joann Kort was named the principal of Dirksen Elementary School in Schaumburg replacing the retiring Pat Piech. Kort is currently the assistant principal at Hoover and Blackwell elementary schools. She has also been a special education director, special education coordinator and teacher for students who are deaf or hearing impaired.

“My path in District 54 has taken me to a variety of places,” Kort said. “At each place I’ve grown professionally and have had the opportunity to work with great mentors.”

Kort has a bachelor’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in teaching, a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership and a learning/behavioral specialist endorsement.

Jillian Sagan – Mead Junior High School
Jillian Sagan was named the principal of Mead Junior High School in Elk Grove Village, replacing Dr. Pete Hannigan who will become the assistant superintendent of human resources in 2013-14. Sagan has been the assistant principal at Mead since July 2011. Previously, she was a special services teacher at Lincoln Prairie School. Sagan has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education.

“Mead is a place where we set high goals, we have high expectations and then we meet those goals,” Sagan said. “We’re going to move forward, support the systems we have in place and continue to always put students first.”

Chris Bingen – Addams Junior High School
Chris Bingen will become the principal of Addams Junior High School in Schaumburg. Bingen is currently the principal of Palos South Middle School in District 118, a position he has held since 2007. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the assistant principal of Frost Junior High School in District 54 and also worked as a teacher at Mead Junior High School, Westfield Junior High School in Bloomingdale and East Middle School in Waukegan.

Bingen has a bachelor’s degree in social science and master’s degrees in instructional technology and educational administration.

“Tonight is a homecoming for me,” Bingen said. “I know by watching the presentation tonight (on the Common Core State Standards) that District 54 is not standing still. You’re moving at a rocket pace and that’s what draws me back here.”

Bingen replaces Steve Pearce who will become the principal of Armstrong Elementary School in Hoffman Estates. Current Armstrong Principal Beth Erbach will become the assistant superintendent for student learning.

District 54 offers free English as a Second Language classes for adults

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Lakeview and Churchill elementary schools are offering free classes for parents who are interested in learning Basic English conversation skills.

Classes will be held at the following times and locations:

Churchill Elementary School
1520 N. Jones Road in Schaumburg
Phone:  847-357-6300
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays – Feb. 11 and 25; March 4, 11 and 18; and April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29

Lakeview Elementary School
615 Lakeview Lane in Hoffman Estates
Phone:  847-357-6600
From 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays – Feb. 11 and 25; March 4, 11 and 18; and April 1, 8 and 15

Babysitting is available for children ages 3 and older.

If you are interested in participating, please fill out the form online at or call Churchill or Lakeview.

School Zone Newsletter – February 2013

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Click here to read the School Zone Newsletter for February 2013, which contains a column from Board Member Karen Strykowski, as well as articles about kindergarten registration, early childhood programming and our Connecting Generations volunteer program.

District 54 Parent-paid Preschool Registration – Feb. 21

Posted Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

School District 54 will host registration for its parent-paid preschool programs at Collins and Aldrin elementary schools on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

The District 54 Parent Paid Preschool Program serves children ages 3 to 5 who are progressing at a rate typical for their age. Classes are taught by state-certified, highly-qualified teachers. Preschool students have the opportunity to participate in schoolwide events and often partner with older classes.

The cost varies depending on whether the student attends for two, three or five days each week.

  • The two-day program is $1,080 annually, payable in five installments of $216.
  • The three-day program is $1,620 annually, payable in five installments of $324.
  • The five-day program is $2,700 annually, payable in five installments of $540.

The first payment is due at registration. Parents must also pay a one-time registration fee of $55 the first time they enroll their child in the program.


Collins is hosting its registration from 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Collins is located at 407 S. Summit Drive in Schaumburg. Collins will offer morning classes only, which will meet from 8:45-11:15 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and from 8:45-11 a.m. on Wednesday.


Aldrin is hosting its registration from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. Feb. 21, 2013. Aldrin is located at 617 Boxwood Drive in Schaumburg. Aldrin will offer morning and afternoon classes, which will meet from 8-10:30 a.m. or 11:45 a.m.-2:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and from 8-10:15 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

There are also preschool programs available in District 54 for children with special needs or those who are not progressing at a rate anticipated for potential success in kindergarten due to one or more at-risk variables. For information about those programs, contact our early childhood department at (847) 357-5097.

Illinois offers 5Essentials Survey

Posted Friday, February 1st, 2013

Beginning Feb. 1, teachers, parents, guardians and students across Illinois will have an opportunity to participate in the Illinois 5Essentials Survey: Organizing Schools for Improvement. The survey was designed to offer individuals an opportunity to share their thoughts on the important elements of school effectiveness and help guide school improvement.

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey will be administered online on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education. The survey identifies five indicators that can lead to important student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains. Research has shown that schools strong on these indicators are 10 times more likely to improve student learning. The five indicators are

  • Effective leaders
  • Collaborative teachers
  • Involved families
  • Supportive environments
  • Ambitious Instruction

Parent Survey — for all District 54 parents

All District parents are encouraged to take this optional survey – whether your child is in a District 54 preschool program, elementary school or junior high. The parent survey is only 26 questions and the state estimates you can complete it in 10 minutes.

If parents have more than one child at a school, they should complete only one survey for that school. In addition, only one parent or guardian per household may participate in the survey. Parents with children enrolled in multiple schools may take the survey for each school. Schools are listed alphabetically by their full names (for example Jane Addams Junior High would be listed under J, not A for Addams).

The state is not providing hard copies of this survey. If you do not have access to a computer, you can use one at one of our local libraries. We will also make computers available to parents at our schools. Call your child’s school if you are interested in taking the survey at a District 54 school.

The parent survey results will only be generated by the state if at least 30 percent of parents at a school respond to the survey. The reports will be included in the School Report Cards released by the Illinois State Board of Education at the end of October. The reports will display summary information, such as the percent of parents who responded that they feel comfortable raising concerns to their children’s teachers.

To take the parent survey, please visit between Feb. 1 and March 31, 2013. When searching for your school’s name, remember to look up the full name (for example, look under J for Jane Addams Junior High School, not A for Addams).

Student Survey – for sixth through eighth grade in District 54

Only students in grades 6 through 12 will take the survey. District 54 schools will provide time at school for our students in grades 6 through 8 to take the survey during the week of Feb. 19 through 22. You can review the questions asked of students by visiting The questions are at a fourth-grade reading level and accommodations will be allowed.

Teacher Survey

On Feb. 13, all District 54 teachers will participate in the Illinois 5Essentials Survey during staff development time. The state said the teacher survey, which includes 120 questions, should take 15-20 minutes to complete.

The survey is to be completed by certified teachers whose primary responsibility involves teaching students for the majority of the school day and year. This would include our library media teachers. The following positions are ineligible to take the survey: paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, tutors, instructional coaches (who do not otherwise teach), student teachers and administrators. This was determined by the Illinois State Board of Education, not District 54.

The identities of anyone taking a survey will be kept completely confidential and survey responses will not be linked to any individual.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact 5Essentials Client Services at (866) 440-1874 or