Teachers and administrators in Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 earlier this month laid out a series of one-year goals for the 2006-07 school year that aim to improve student performance across the curriculum. The teachers, members of the district’s School Improvement Process Committee, presented the goals at the Board of Education’s regular meeting on April 12.
S.E. Gross Middle School Principal Thomas Hurlburt, a member of the committee, explained that while the state required school districts to have some sort of school improvement plan, mostly focusing on those areas where the district may not be meeting state or federal standards, this year the committee tried to set goals for improvement in all areas of the curriculum regardless of the district’s past performance.
Hurlburt will take over at the district’s superintendent on July 1. The board has not yet named a new principal for Gross School.
Michael Sorensen, assistant principal at S.E. Gross Middle School and two-year member of the committee, said this year’s set of goals was unique because it expanded beyond simply improving performance on standardized tests, such as the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), and addressed more areas of the curriculum.
“[Last year] we focused more on getting our ISAT scores to a higher level, and that is where we put our goal,” he said. “This time around we went more towards setting goals where we really could see results. Last time it was more getting teachers familiar with ISAT standards. Now we have all those, now we’re going to move on to more specific-type goals.”
Many of the goals, all of which were developed with extensive teacher input, seek to standardize certain methods of teaching throughout the grade levels.
For example, one goal in the area of reading and writing is to include an extended writing response question in book quizzes at all levels. Teachers will also be developing a set of reading strategies that they will introduce at all grade levels.
For science, one goal is to introduce at least one experiment per month. A tentative social studies goal?”although Superintendent Douglas Rudig said it is not clear if it can be accomplished in one year?”is to better align the teaching of the American government system across different grade levels.
Beyond coordinating the curriculum, the goals also address student performance in some areas, while also improving student understanding of certain topics covered by the ISAT. For example, ISAT vocabulary posters and flash cards will be incorporated into math, science and social studies classrooms.
In math and reading, students at all grade levels will also be given at least five extended response exercises per year that will be graded using the ISAT scoring rubric.
In a separate interview, Rudig said the focus on concepts covered in the ISAT was meant both to improve areas where students haven’t performed as well as the district would like, as well as to maintain those areas where students are testing well.
“The goal here is two-fold,” he said. “Certainly, there is a greater focus on those areas identified as areas where we’d like to do better, but at the same time we wouldn’t want to eliminate areas where we are doing well.”