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D-205 implements school choice, ELL program changes

Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 12:14 p.m. CDT

ELMHURST – Thirty-two students are registered to transfer from Conrad Fischer Elementary to Jefferson Elementary this year.

Fischer students were given the choice under the No Child Left Behind Act to transfer to a school that made its adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets. Fischer has not made its targets for the past two years.

District 205 gave parents just more than two weeks to decide if they wanted to transfer their students, even though the state had not released final AYP results. District staff hoped to prepare students, teachers and parents by the first day of school, which is Monday.

“We did add a fifth grade [class] to Jefferson in order to accommodate those students,” Superintendent Dave Pruneau said.

An additional section of kindergarten also was added at Jefferson. The district will use up to 20 percent of Fischer’s Title I funding to provide free bus service to transfer students, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, too.

Title I funding is provided to schools in which at least 40 percent of the students come from low-income families, with the intent to offer programs that increase those students’ academic success.

During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Pruneau said the Illinois State Board of Education tentatively published its list of schools that made AYP last year, and it included more District 205 schools than Jefferson.

“It appears that the state has made a decision to change the criteria this year of the finding [of] AYP in the state of Illinois,” Pruneau said.

He explained the state changed the confidence interval that is applied to the formula used to determine AYP from 95 percent to 75 percent. The state also redesigned safe harbor, which deals with performance targets for student subgroups.

The changes to how AYP is calculated will not affect school choice because the district already declared Jefferson the only option for school choice.

Pruneau also spoke about changes to the Fischer ELL program. He explained that district staff and Fischer staff met multiple times to reevaluate the program.

“We were able to come to a staffing model that I think the Fischer staff is supportive of and satisfied with, and meets the needs of all the students at Fischer, which was the bottom line for us,” Pruneau said.

The new model adds a bilingual resource teacher to the existing ELL program at Fischer. This resource teacher will provide additional support to students transitioning out of bilingual classroom if necessary. The district also brought back a teacher that it previously planned on transferring to another school.

The district plans to use look at the ELL program again after this school year, before implementing it as a districtwide plan.

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