The District 99 Board of Education held a workshop meeting on October 3, 2016.
South High seniors Gisselle Cervantes, Bregin DeMarco, Jenna Norwood, Nick Rohl and Grace Ulch were five of eight students who led the freshmen orientation program called “Mad Dash.” Over 500 students attended the event, which took place on a Saturday before the start of school. It included workshops, ice-breakers, skits and games to help new students feel more comfortable entering high school. “A lot of times you learn better from your peers,” said Nick Rohl.
South High Principal Ed Schwartz with students Grace Ulch, Bregin DeMarco, Gisselle Cervantes, Nick Rohl and Jenna Norwood
Student leaders also follow up with freshmen during assigned resource to work with them after they have experienced life at South High. Board members thanked the students for the significant amount of time they spent preparing and planning the event to help acclimate their fellow students.
Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele reviewed the district’s proposed 2016-17 goals. The goals, which span nine areas, are focused on maintaining and improving practices to grow student achievement and success. Dr. Thiele explained how administration is defining the traits of a successful student, such as leadership and empathy, to help guide the district’s academic program and vision for the future.
“D99 is a great district and there are great things going on here, but we can’t settle with that. We need to continually improve and get better and stretch ourselves,” said Dr. Thiele. “Nobody on this team is going to settle for status quo.” The Board will vote on the goals at its meeting on October 17.
Student Learning Report
Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Gina Ziccardi reviewed student achievement data from the prior school year. After noting that the district doesn’t use test scores alone to define successful students, but also considers other measures such as leadership and involvement, Ziccardi explained that for 2016:
- The ACT average is 23.0, up from 22.6 last year and ahead of the state and national average of 20.8;
- Student growth, as measured by test scores over time from when students first enter high school through their junior year, is up to 37.4% over 36% last year;
- Participation in Advanced Placement and Honors courses is up to 48% of all students, up from 45.6% last year; and,
- More students are stretching themselves and taking AP exams; over 2,047 tests were taken, up from 1,729 the previous school year.
South High’s Associate Principal Georgia Hash and North High’s Associate Principal Sara Courington reviewed specific data for the schools; they credited teachers for encouraging more students to stretch themselves to take AP exams. Administrators noted the lasting benefits of taking AP courses and exams, including being better prepared for college coursework.
Master Facility Plan
Since 2013, the district has been developing a plan to address its future facility needs. Administration reviewed and explained the current concept ideas, which have been prioritized by staff and Board of Education members. See the latest concept ideas and timeline of concept development here.
The next step is for the district to hire an expert to help share the plans in a wide and meaningful way with community members, so that the plans can be more broadly understood, considered and refined.