Superintendent's Message, 2.24.20

Superintendent's Message, 2.24.20

Accountability Data Tells Our Story

When you ask them, do your kids offer lengthy descriptions of what’s happening in their KCSD96 classrooms? In case their answers are a bit short on details, I’ll share some information from my perspective….

I spend a lot of time in our schools. My role as superintendent gives me an enviable vantage point for observing and listening.

When I open a classroom door and step inside, I hear kids and their teachers hypothesizing about a science lab, discussing a character’s motivation, explaining varied approaches to solving a math problem. I see young leaders developing and student groups demonstrating understanding of their learning through creative projects and presentations. 

My takeaways from those classroom visits are always these: Our students and teachers are enthusiastically and authentically engaged in their work together and our schools are exceptional places to learn.

Hard evidence of this comes through an annual benchmarking study in which we compare ourselves to 20 specific Illinois suburban and North Shore high-performing school districts in the area with demographics, student population, and academic rigor comparable to our own. The comparison of our District to these same school districts each year allows us to make a meaningful “apples-to-apples” comparison because district raw scores are indexed (tabulated by Advantage Analytics, LLC, via the Illinois State Board of Education media database).

Raw index scores from 2019 accountability data show that our students are performing overall in the 98th percentile in Illinois as compared to peers. 

Likewise, District 96 taxpayer dollars continue to yield top results. In fact, our students’ learning outcomes exceed those in many benchmarked districts in which both revenue and instructional expense per pupil are higher. 

Another measure of the benchmarking study considers student attendance, limited English proficiency, and the percentage of students from low-income families, as well as other predictors that may affect students’ academic performance. Factoring in those predictors in assessing expected performance for benchmark school districts shows that District 96 is among the leaders in exceeding expectations, scoring in the 99th percentile.

For our students, our faculty, and our community, these outcomes are a celebration. Equally important, however, is that–in a culture deeply committed to continuous improvement, as our professional learning community is–reviewing this data annually has strategic value. It provides evidence that we have made improvement year after year for the last 16 years. With clarity about our strengths and our opportunities for growth, we focus our work and our resources optimally for the academic and social/emotional growth of every child in every District 96 school.

Exciting Science

Early this month our Woodlawn/Country Meadows Campus was the site of an Illinois Science Olympiad Invitational for 43 middle school teams–including KCSD96 Twin Groves and Woodlawn Middle Schools. Approximately 700 students from across the Chicagoland area spent their Saturday showcasing their science learning in preparation for the Science Olympiad Regional Competition. 

In Science Olympiad, students compete in project challenges in multiple categories, including Crime Busters, Disease Detectives, Ping Pong Parachute, Food Science, Mousetrap Vehicle, and many more. I invite you to take a look at some photos of KCSD96 Science Olympiad students at work.

Scores at the end of the invitational showed our KCSD96 middle schools had strong performances: Woodlawn finished in third place and Twin Groves in fourth place among 24 varsity teams. In junior varsity competition among 19 teams, Twin Groves earned second place and Woodlawn earned third place. 

Best wishes to our Twin Groves and Woodlawn junior varsity and varsity Science Olympiad teams as they compete next month at Regionals!

Beautiful and Inspiring Music

February 8 was a busy Saturday for our band, orchestra, and choral musicians, competing at the Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA) Solo/Ensemble Contest, held at Daniel Wright Junior High School in Lincolnshire. We salute our musicians, whose many hours of focused practice is evident, as concert attendees and visitors to our schools know.

The top rating awarded to students in IGSMA competition is a rating of 1 and 115 KCSD96 students, grades 4–8, earned that distinguished honor.

A 1+ rating is awarded to exemplary performers in the top category. They included 26 KCSD96 students, grades 4–8. 

We recognize the commitment of our 2020 IGSMA top-performing musicians and thank you for the beautiful music you provide. 

Looking ahead…

We will begin registration for returning students for the 2020–2021 school year on March 3. Please watch for emails including unique registration information to be sent then–one email for each student in your family who will attend a District 96 school in the school year to come.