Superintendent's Message, 6.17.2015

The end of the school year was a blur of activity, with our students and staff wrapping up a stellar year. If we had a District 96 cup to hoist for 2014-2015, I’d definitely do it, because we really should celebrate:
our Illinois State Board of Education Teacher-of-the-Year finalist - Prairie Technology Coach Lauren Hoeft;
Those Who Excel Illinois State Board of Education recognition for five dedicated faculty/staff members: Lisa May, Julie Shaver, Gwen Flaskamp, Erica Martin, Lorna Jaegers, and former Board member John Rouleau;
iPads in the hands of our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders–used strategically and effectively as tools for learning;
LES classrooms* in our middle schools–specifically renovated to foster student collaboration and technology accessibility (*LES stands for Learning Environment Study, carried out by selected middle school faculty, staff, and a Board of Education representative to recommend improvements to physical classroom spaces to enhance learning);
the long-awaited “birth” of the Exceptional Learners Collaborative–following a decade of planning, providing comprehensive programs locally to support development of independence/life-skills for our students with special needs;
Woodlawn and Twin Groves Science Olympiad Teams–achieving outstanding results in their first year–and with Twin Groves qualifying for state competition;
the Board’s approval and the work that’s already underway to install rubberized running tracks at our middle schools–to be ready in time for the start of the school year.

It was an exciting year filled with affirmations that the work we’re doing to maximize the potential of every child in every school in District 96 is, indeed, on track! We’ll be building on that work in 2015-2016….
A Word About PARCC
As you know, last year we administered the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) for the first time. Instead of the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT), our students in Grades 3–8 took the PARCC assessment both in March and in May. The March PARCC was the performance-based assessment, which included fewer questions, but those questions included multiple “layers.” For example, a student would calculate the answer to the math problem–and also explain the process to solve it and the meaning of the answer. The end-of-year portion of the PARCC, administered in May, was similar to the ISAT in multiple-choice format, but aligned to the Common Core.

Based on feedback received from states administering PARCC and on review of the test design,  the PARCC Consortium Governing Board (including representation from Illinois) has determined that the PARCC will be administered during only one testing window (period) in the 2015-16 school year, rather than in two. Another change is that the total testing time will be 90 minutes less than previously (30 minutes less in English and 60 minutes less in math). Depending on the grade level, students will participate in 6 or 7 test units during the testing window rather than in 8 or 9 test units, with the scheduled testing time for each unit being 60 - 90 minutes.

And what about your student’s March/May 2015 PARCC results? It will be late fall before we receive them. It takes longer to calculate those results because content experts from each state must review the first year of scores to determine appropriate score ranges for performance levels.
All-Day Access for Elementary Students, Grades 1 - 5
Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, every District 96 student in Grades 1 – 5 will have all-day access to technology in his or her classroom. Each elementary student will be equipped with an iPad. Our experience with our middle school students and teachers has shown that iPads are powerful tools for learning. Educational “apps” already loaded on the elementary  iPads have been specifically selected by District teachers to support and extend our students’ understanding of the curriculum in a variety of subject areas. We’re very excited about the learning opportunities that all-day access will give our first–fifth graders. Please note that elementary iPads will remain at school, however. Once in middle school, our students use their iPads at home as well as in class.
Please Save the Date!
The 5th-Annual District 96 Dash is Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. This D96 tradition is a fun community event sponsored by the District 96 PTO Coordinating Council that benefits students and families in our own school district who are experiencing financial hardship. Rain or shine, all ages welcome! Step off at 8:30 a.m. to run or walk the timed 3.2-mile course. More information about online registration and Dash details will be coming later this summer.
We’ll keep in touch...
Make a note to check your e-mail for Summer Update E-NEWS 96 on July 1 for information about the school year ahead. A reminder that our schools will be closed during July. If you have questions during that time, please call the District/Business Office at 847.459.4260. We’re happy to help!
District/Business Office Summer Hours:
June 8 – Aug. 7, 2015
1050 Ivy Hall Lane, Buffalo Grove, IL  60089
Hours open to the public:
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 – 11:30 a.m
Enjoy the summer – and please remind your kids to keep reading!
Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent