Volume 24, No. 5 | Wednesday December 2, 2020
News from the November 24, 2020 meeting
Fall Assessment Shows Strong Achievement Amid Pandemic
While this school year is far from ‘normal,’ one nationally normed assessment taken by District 28 students in math and reading indicates that academic growth is continuing at a steady rate.
 
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a computer-adaptive assessment that measures growth over time and is aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards. Students in second through eighth grade take the test in fall, winter and spring. It is a normed test, meaning it compares the performance of students taking the test nationwide. Both in-person and remote learning students participated in the assessment between Sept. 21 and Oct. 23.
 
The assessment is one data point that helps school and district leaders identify strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum and helps teachers to understand what students are ready to learn next, said Michelle Jackson, Director of Learning.

Scores show that at least twice as many District 28 students perform in the top 20% band as the national norm in math, while no more than 3% fall in the lowest 20% quintile. In reading, at least 74% of students perform in the top two bands nationally, and no more than 4% score in the bottom 20% nationally.
“One assessment doesn’t tell the whole story, but we can see that investing in early literacy has been successful and our students are ready for increased rigor and challenge,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer said.
 
The assessment report also included a comparison of scores from last fall for the same cohort. The data illustrates that there has not been a decline in academic performance despite the challenges of teaching and learning during a pandemic. View the full report here.

“We know teachers have worked exceptionally hard to ensure students could continue to thrive, and we have seen the dedication of kids and parents to continue to prioritize learning even though things look different this year,” Dr. Raitzer said.
 
The MAP ‘norms’ are adjusted every three to five years based on overall student performance. The norms were updated in 2020.
 
The state standardized test, the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, was canceled last spring. This assessment provides data points in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding grade-level learning standards. The state is planning to conduct the assessment in 2021.
In Brief
Minor Enrollment Shift for Second Semester
There will not be significant enrollment changes between in-person students and remote learning students for the second semester, Dr. Hewitt reported. Parents were asked to select their children’s learning choices by November 17.
 
In grades K-5 across the district, six students will move from in-person learning to the Remote Learning Academy, and 39 students will shift to in-person learning from RLA. At the junior high, 11 students will switch to RLA and 26 will switch to in-person learning.
 
All students in the district who did not change learning environments will continue with the same teachers for the second semester. K-5 students who switched will receive placement and teacher information on December 18. At the junior high, the formula is more complex due to the different levels of English language arts, math and world language. Students changing placements will be notified of their new schedules in early January. 
 
Draft Calendar Presented for 2021-22
The draft calendar for the 2021-22 school year follows the typical pattern of previous years, with one exception. Teachers typically return on the third Monday in August for two institute days with students starting the school year on Wednesday. The draft proposal for next year has the first Teacher Institute Day on Tuesday, August 17 and the first day for students on Thursday, August 19.
 
Parent/teacher conferences, school improvement planning days, and state holidays remain the same as the current calendar, except that Casimir Pulaski Day, March 7, 2022, becomes a student attendance day. This places the last day of school on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
 
The 2021-22 school calendar will be finalized and approved at the Dec. 15 meeting.
 
Illinois School Report Cards Impacted by Pandemic
The annual Illinois School Report Card, traditionally released on Oct. 30 every year, was impacted by the school closures last spring due to the pandemic. The state did not conduct the Illinois Assessment of Readiness last March, which measures student achievement in Illinois Learning Standards. Only the demographic and financial data is published in the reports. The links to the interactive report cards for each school are posted on the district website School Report Card page.
 
District Mobile App Nears Release
The District 28 mobile app is nearing completion, which is the final stage of a two-year project to refresh and enhance parent communication.
 
A parent communication survey conducted in September 2019 indicated that 82% of respondents were either likely or very likely to use a mobile app. The app will allow users to customize calendars and save events to their devices, receive push notifications and send emails to district staff. A notification center will house district-wide and school-wide emails. Quick links will access website resources and news and social media feeds will keep parents up to date with what’s happening in the schools and district.
 
All parents will receive login information via email and instructions on how to download the app and customize it for their children’s schools, said Communications Director Terry Ryan. The app is expected to launch at the beginning of the second semester.
 
Other components of the communication project, which was based on parent feedback, included a new website design and a new notification system with more effective text messaging.
Want to Know More?
Livestream/Archive Video
The Board of Education meetings are live-steamed on the District 28's YouTube Channel. The live streams are also archived for later viewing.

Next Meeting is December 15
The Board of Education meetings will be held virtually until further notice in order to limit visitors within the school buildings and maintain cleaning protocols. The public is invited to listen to the audio stream of the meeting on the district's YouTube Channel. The next regular meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. on December 15.