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Charles Johns: D-205 offers assessments, experience for college readiness

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013 12:01 p.m. CST

Educators in Elmhurst School District 205 are focused on helping their students learn the skills, behaviors and critical knowledge that will enable them to realize success later in life. Similarly, the nation's goal for public education is to develop students to be college and/or career ready by the time they graduate high school. At the same time, the district is constantly examining its own practices for ways of improving on already high levels of performance.

There are many sources of data being used in District 205. By having multiple measures, students, parents and the district can see progress on important skills over time.

For the core academic areas, these goals are supported through the use of several very helpful assessments.

For several years, District 205 has used the Educational Planning and Assessment System that was developed by ACT to support its academic program and measure its performance to the national goal. The EPAS system has four overarching benefits: student planning, instructional support, assessment and evaluation.

Three assessments constitute EPAS, administered from eighth to 12th grade. These assessments are the EXPLORE, PLAN and the ACT.

As previously noted, the EPAS provides a means of measuring a student's progress through the high school years. In fact, ACT provides the College Readiness Benchmark Scores for each of the three assessments. ACT defines being "on track" as based on what score indicates a student is likely to earn a B in a freshman-level course at a moderately competitive college or university.

While these assessments are very helpful to students and educators alike, it is important to note that there is much more that goes into being "college or career ready" that is measured by these assessments. The schools in District 205 offer a broad range of experiences that are not measured by standardized assessments but are still vital to the development of young people and to their future successes.

Experts on college readiness often suggest that skills in writing, an appreciation for the arts and trades, global understanding and language skills, as well as service within the community, are influential in college success.

Dr. Charles Johns is assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction with Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205.

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