Superintendent Message, 11.10.15

What do visitors see when they look inside our classrooms? I’m proud to say they see exemplary learning environments fostering innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. 

Recently, we received word that Kildeer Countryside School District 96 has been named a 2015-2017 Apple Distinguished Schools Program–a designation reserved for programs that not only meet rigorous criteria, but offer an engaging learning environment.

Apple education team representatives–who visit schools nationwide to observe technology implementation–were impressed by what they saw happening in KCSD96 classrooms. In fact, they described our use of technology as "a lighthouse for others in the State of Illinois." Their KCSD96 visit took them to Woodlawn Middle School, where they observed teachers and students using technology in ways that emphasize collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. These are, of course, essential skills for succeeding in college and careers.

In District 96 all middle school students, teachers, and administrators school-wide have 1:1 access to Apple mobile devices. Likewise, all KCSD96 students, grades 1–8, have all-day access.  We know, however, that simply making technology available in our classrooms is not enough. Instead, it’s our collaborative purposefulness in integrating technology to improve instructional practices that distinguishes us.

In each KCSD96 school, we have a dedicated technology coach whose focus is working side-by-side with classroom teachers (job-embedded professional development) to examine curriculum learning targets and integrate technology effectively to help our students grow. The mission is to support and extend learning in ways that meet the needs of students at all levels.

KCSD96 staff  share leadership in this all-important work to help teachers transform instruction. Every day, students see the adults around them modeling practices of lifelong learning consistent with the 21st-century workplace. These include research and innovative thinking as we collaborate on best practices to improve learning outcomes for our students at all levels.
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK (may take time to open)
Beautiful mild fall weather can make us forget that this is November, but the calendar tells us that the Trimester 1 report period ends this Friday, Nov. 13, and parent/teacher conferences are Nov. 23–24.

As you consider questions you might ask your child’s teacher, I want to reiterate the purpose of  your student’s District 96 report card: clear communication concerning achievement of grade-level-specific learning targets and student work habits.

This report card format is much more informative than receiving only a percentage and a letter grade for a course or content area. With the Standards-Based Reporting system, you know exactly how your student is progressing on specific targets.

The graph below illustrates a perfectly acceptable progression of learning toward a target that repeats over multiple trimesters. As 3.0 is mastery, it would make sense that a student may not master the target at the end of 12 weeks–or even at the end of 24 weeks–of instruction. It’s also important to note that the complexity and rigor of a target increases over the course of the three trimesters. If, however, a target is listed in only one trimester, mastery (3.0) is certainly the goal by the end of that 12-week period.

Read closely (make inferences, summarize,
determine themes, cite text evidence) to analyze 
how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and 
interact over the course of a text.
(2.0) or
Not Mastering
(3.0) or

Mastery of the 3.0 targets is our primary focus for teaching and learning, as 3.0 targets are the more rigorous expectations as detailed in the Common Core. When our students demonstrate mastery early in a trimester, we commit to working diligently on their mastery of the 4.0 extension target.

Our commitment is to move your student up the scale from 1 to 2 and 2 to 3.  We are also committed to moving students from 3 to 4 during the trimester in which the Learning Target is reported when there is adequate instructional time left to do so. If your student has not demonstrated mastery of the 3.0 in the given trimester, we have the ability to update you on his or her progress toward 3.0 mastery in later trimesters, if appropriate.
A picture is worth a thousand words–and sometimes a video is even better! This Friday, Nov. 13, be sure to watch for your E-NEWS email. Beginning this week, we’ll give you opportunities periodically via KCSD96: E-VIEWS to step into our classrooms virtually for quick looks at our students and teachers at work.

This Friday, you’ll see them collaborating in science classes on challenging projects that have everyone fully engaged and thinking creatively. We look forward to giving you E-VIEWS opportunities periodically so you can see and hear how your children learn in KCSD96. We hope, too, that these glimpses give you real opportunities for focused conversation at home when you ask your kids that age-old question: “What did you do in school today?”
Exemplary education, highly qualified teachers, safe and well-maintained schools, and responsible fiscal stewardship…. This is an accurate description of School District 96, thanks to seven devoted volunteers–each one committed to children and their education.

Our Board of Education members are Marc TepperBoard president, Renee Klassvice president, Lauren Gordonsecretary, Mike Burns, Elizabeth Dietz, James Strezewski, and Cynthia Zarkowski. Together they have served our community for a combined total of more than 30 years.

Most people rarely think about the behind-the-scenes work of the Board of Education, but these elected, unpaid community residents commit many hours of their personal time to make KCSD96 a school district where all students can excel!

Nov. 15 is Board Member Recognition Day. I invite you to express your appreciation in a note or email(s) for their devotion and the difference our Board of Education members make for every D96 child in every school every day.
Mailing a note?
School District 96 Board of Education, 1050 Ivy Hall Ln., Buffalo Grove, IL  60089
Sending email(s)?

I hope you and your family enjoy happy Thanksgiving holidays together.
- Julie Schmidt, Superintendent of District 96 Schools