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McDonald: Supporting student success at District 99

At the July Board of Education meeting, District 99 presented our annual “state of the district” report and progress that we’re making on our five-year strategic plan. Key accomplishments that we’ve made during the 2014-15 school year include:

• Encouraging more students to enroll in rigorous advanced placement (AP), honors and dual credit courses – nearly one in five students (919) took one or more AP exams in 2013-14.

• Integrating and enhancing math courses to align to new state standards, and incorporating measures to assess speaking, listening and writing standards into other subjects. Teachers across all disciplines have been involved in the improvement and evolution of our standards.

• Addressing the needs of underachieving students by studying and improving the types of assistance we offer. Students received nearly 20,000 interventions from classroom teachers in 2013-14--nearly double the number of interventions they received in 2011-12.

• Continuing our focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum, enrolling more than 250 students in new physics and engineering courses.

• Deepening our ability to serve students and respond to their social, emotional and college and career planning needs. For example, Downers Grove South High School’s counseling and student support services program achieved Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program certification, which validates that the school’s program aligns with nationally known best practices and services.

• Piloting “one-to-one” learning (providing individual laptops) to 200 students. We plan to expand the pilot to 1,500 targeted students in 2014-15.

• Completing the Transition 99 program facility on time and on budget, continuing our commitment to serve students with special needs and prepare them with vital life skills.

• Refining and improving our teacher evaluation process to meet new state guidelines, to ensure that students continue to receive high quality instruction.

District 99 is fortunate to be part of such a supportive community, where together we can ensure that every student achieves a successful future.

Mark McDonald is the superintendent of schools at District 99, which includes North High School and South High School in Downers Grove. To learn more about the district’s strategic plan, please go to

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