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Looking ahead at changing learning practices in District 181

As we approach the end of the school year, our attention begins to shift toward the year ahead. In order to best meet the needs of all District 181 students, the following practices will be implemented gradually as part of our Advanced Learning Plan:

• Accelerate learning through increased rigor in the New Illinois Learning Standards incorporating the Common Core;

• Increase differentiated instruction;

• Develop collaborative data-based teams that focus on instruction for all students;

• Utilize flexible groupings within grade-level teams;

• Provide advanced mathematics opportunities;

• Implement a balanced literacy approach, with increased emphasis on the instructional levels of students; and

• Restructure staff professional development to include job-embedded coaching and collaboration.

For 2013-14, some of the specific changes that will be implemented include:

• We will use staff time differently to make the most of every opportunity for our staff to collaborate and improve student learning;

• The MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessment will be aligned to the Common Core and expanded to include not only grades three through seven, but also grades two and eight;

• Students in kindergarten and grades one through five will begin use of Reading Fundamentals, new materials that will complete our implementation of balanced literacy materials at the elementary level;

• Sixth-grade students will be able to opt in to more rigorous social studies, language arts and math courses that have been traditionally offered only to students who met specific academic criteria; and

• Teachers will participate in a pilot of math materials aligned to the Common Core. If approved for adoption, new math materials will be implemented in grades kindergarten through fifth in the 2014-15 school year.

We extend our gratitude to our parents and community for your support of students and staff this school year. District 181 is among the very best school systems in the state because of the people who contribute to our success.

Renée Schuster is superintendent of District 181 schools

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