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District 205 uses state Rising Star program for improvements

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 10:33 a.m. CDT

ELMHURST – District 205 as a whole and three individual schools are using an Illinois State Board of Education program to set and achieve goals after failing to make adequate yearly progress.

York High School, Churchville Middle School, Conrad Fischer Elementary and the district are following Rising Star procedures.

“The state, at this point, would like to have all of [the schools] regardless of whether or not they’re required,” Charles Johns, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Johns explained that, as a result of No Child Left Behind standings and recently revised Illinois State Board of Education procedures, three schools and the district have not made AYP. He anticipates within two years all District 205 schools will participate as the AYP standards set by NCLB will increase.

“It is an extremely high amount of work and labor that goes into completing these Rising Star plans,” Johns said.

One positive Johns mentioned about the program, which he described as “rigorous,” is that it takes a project management approach which isn’t often seen in education. Teams meet to evaluate what progress has been made on goals set the year before.

All schools in the district also create individual school improvement plans. Leadership teams at each school set goals based on their population’s unique needs.

“In some cases the principals and their teams dialed in on a very small target for an area of improvement at maybe a very high-performing school,” Johns said. “Other schools took broader or widely encompassing targets or goals.”

York’s school improvement plan goals applied to students as a whole. One goal is for instructional teams to assess curriculum and instructional strategies using student learning data. Churchville also set broad goals for professionals, learners and the school community.

Fischer, on the other hand, set goals aimed at meeting the needs of certain subgroups such as narrowing achievement gaps on the ISAT for Hispanic and low-income students and those with limited English proficiency by 10 percent compared to their peers at each grade level.

Board member Karen Stufen asked how the Rising Star plans, school improvement plans and key district performance indicators are related. They are separate plans, but all relate to goal-setting.

Johns suggested reviewing the plans and indicating which DPIs are also addressed through the Rising Star program this spring.

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