At midnight, the Illinois School Report Cards and the official rankings were finally released for everyone to see.
Click to Open Chicago SunTimes Ranking Charts
The Top 50 Schools were ranked for each category: Elementary, Middle and High School.
First, we want to extend a huge congratulations to Hinsdale Central High School. It was ranked 4th in the entire state, moving up one spot and bumping New Trier down to 6th place. Looks like the high school has continued to show improvement and excellence in its instruction of our students! We are very fortunate in our community to be able to send our children to such a prestigious high school.
The news was not so good for Hinsdale Middle School (HMS) or Clarendon Hills Middle School (CHMS). They both dropped in the rankings this year.
Hinsdale Middle School dropped from 22nd to 27th in the state. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards was 80.84.
CHMS was ranked 32nd in the state, dropping from 26th place last year and 23rd place in 2011. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards was 78.81.
Butler Middle School in Oak Brook, the district D181 most often compares itself to -- and is a feeder school into Hinsdale Central -- moved up in the ranks to 15th place ahead of the 17th place it held in 2012.
A growing divide seems to be taking place between the performance of students at Butler and those in D181's middle schools. This concerns us because we need our students to become MORE competitive with students from other schools who will attend high school with our students, not LESS competitive.
In terms of pure rankings, there was good news and bad news for our 7 elementary schools. First the good.
Oak School led our schools by moving up in the rankings landing in 15th place, rather than 27th in 2012. Percentage of Students meeting or exceeding standards: 85.01.
Prospect also moved up landing in 18th place, up from 22nd. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards: 84.09.
Walker moved up to 24th place from 35th place in 2012. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards: 82.89.
Madison moved up to 30th place from 41st place in 2012. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards: 82.04.
Now the bad news:
Elm now ranks in 38th place, down 10 spots from 28th place in 2012. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards: 81.51.
Lane dropped even more. It now ranks 49th, down 13 spots from 36th place in 2012. Percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards: 80.51.
And what about Monroe? It is not ranked among the top 50 schools in the state. It is not even ranked in the top 100. It is ranked 108.
Remember this is the school whose principal, Dawn Benaitis, was promoted to the position of the Assistant Director of Learning and was hired to replace Mr. Russell to oversee assessment after he was promoted. Monroe parents should be deeply concerned that all other elementary schools in D181 are ranked in the top 50, but Monroe is not even in the top 100. What is wrong with this picture?
Well ahead of D181's schools, Oak Brook's Brook Forest Elementary School ranked 11th in the State, jumping up 2 spots from 13th place in 2012. Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding Standards in that school: 87.03.
It is time the D181 Administration closely analyzes the final data now available from the state and report to the community why some of our schools are falling behind and why we cannot seem to keep pace with the Oak Brook schools.
Elise Frattura's report
Read it for yourself in the blog titled: Common Core Learning For All. Fact or Fiction?
"A key factor in teaching within ICS and social justice is the understanding that nothing magic has ever happened behind the doors of a special education classroom, or a reading resource room, or an ESL room, or a gifted and talented resource room. "
Open your eyes to what an all inclusive social justice school does NOT have. It will take years to get back on track after these "administrators" are long gone.
As a Lane School Parent, I am really concerned. Not only is The Lane one of the smallest Elementary schools, but it has basically no English language learners and no low income children. Our children have tutors, educated parents, and food on the table, so why are their scores so low? Is it the curriculum,the teaching quality, or the time spent on academics? Also interesting: the 3 schools with the highest number if iPads, Monroe, Elm and The Lane, have the LOWEST scores.
By the way, Brook Forest in Oak Brook, doesn't have Apple computers, but their school scored much higher than any in our district. That is not to say they don't have the money for it - they certainly do. But they realize that iPads and Apple computers don't make children learn more. Teachers do.
Monroe scored 108, Oak 15. Something is wrong. Everyone else in the top 50.
Remember who was Principal at Monroe last year? Schuster's Queen of Assessment, Dawn Benaitis. How about the Lane where Schuster's King Principal is from the state educational powerhouse of Missouri, Godfrey, who is sitting back and watching the test scores drop while running around trying to figure out which fire to put out.
Wait, wasn't Dawn Benaitis, our current assistant superintendent for learning, the principal at Monroe for the last 2 or 3 years? SHE is in charge of everyone's children's educations now? Yikes.
This is a two part post.
To The Board Of Education and Administration of District 181:
In light of reading The Doings yesterday, we felt compelled to respond to Mr. Turek, as well as to the FOIA information we received. If the district were honest about The Advanced Learning Plan, we would not have had to submit a FOIA. Yes, having to process our FOIA was a “frivolous” act because there was not anything in the report that supported advancing EVERY student a grade level ahead in math. If the district was honest about the lack of research behind the program, then we would not have had to submit the FOIA for the data we desired to review.
The information provided to satisfy request #1, data that supports a successful outcome when advancing ALL students one grade level ahead in math beyond the Common Core Standards, is insufficient. A goal for students to complete Algebra I by the end of 8th grade in 2018-19 is not an outcome. Dr. Moon made many recommendations in her report, one of which stated that it could be “theoretically” possible to advance students a year ahead in math. She stated that a group of stakeholders should have investigated the feasibility of the task. She also cautioned that diverse needs existed in a homogenous setting of advanced/gifted students and the need for supportive measures in that particular situation would have been necessary. Where is all of the research that a task force should have done regarding the matter of advancing EVERY single 3rd grader a grade level ahead in math and the supportive measures that would have been needed in the classrooms in District 181? The bottom line is that Dr Moon’s report was an analysis of a broken gifted program, not an analysis of how to advance an entire district a year ahead in math. In addition, she stated the Everyday Math curriculum met 7 out of 8 criteria for meeting the Common Core Standards and was deemed a good program. Advancing students a grade level ahead in math because of the Common Core Standards was not true.
The response to request #2, documents that support a successful outcome when teaching ALL 3rd graders two years of math (3rd and 4th grade math) without an approved curriculum, is insufficient. There was no framework for what teachers should have been doing in the classroom. Charging the 3rd grade teachers with teaching two years of math to EVERY student without specified materials, extra supportive measures, and guidance from the Administration is unacceptable. The Board Of Education approving the Math Transition Plan for the 2012-13 school year on May 21, 2012 is not District 181 based research.
The response to request #3, documents and examples of successful outcomes when placing an average student in gifted and accelerated programs, does not correlate with the implementation of The Advanced Learning Plan/Learning For All Plan in District 181.
It should be noted that The Executive Summary from Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel discussed how a strong foundation in mathematical success in high school math through Algebra II correlated with college success (not having to complete Calculus to be successful). It called for robust number sense in 5th grade. It stated that before middle school, students needed fraction fluency, as well as geometry/measurement proficiency. The article said that teacher knowledge was related to student achievement. We do not believe the District 181 teacher’s abilities are in question.
Curriculum Compacting: A Systematic Procedure for Modifying the Curriculum for Above Average Ability Students discussed how grade compacting could be beneficial for advanced/gifted students who had already mastered concepts and who were bored in class. It did not discuss grade compacting EVERY child in a classroom and the ramifications it could have on how a student perceived his/her abilities.
Teach Up for Excellence, while it is an interesting article, we failed to see the connection between the article and our child, as well as other students in the district. This article discussed how to increase test scores of low income students/students from families with racially diverse backgrounds. It discussed how expectations are lower for this demographic group. Hinsdale is not a racially diverse community. We do not believe that teachers have low expectations for the students in District 181.
South Side Middle School was referenced in the FOIA: Math Acceleration for All; Accountability, Rigor, and Detracking; and Differentiated Instruction. Rockville Centre in New York City is a diverse school district. The Superintendent described the demographic groups as being divided into the “haves” and the “have nots.” In efforts to close the gap on the high school level, the district advanced the middle school students a grade level ahead in math. The Rockville Centre Administration provided every stop gap measurable to support and advance the middle school students. Extra math classes were provided throughout the day. Also, as part of the teacher’s contracts, they offered after school tutoring 4 days per week for students, in addition to many other measures to support the great task. All supportive measures were complimentary. District 181 did not even have a curriculum.
These were middle school students with a solid foundation for math. It should be noted that students in elementary feeder schools to South Side Middle School work on grade level K-4 with some compacting that begins in 5th grade. They also work with an enrichment program called STELLAR, which utilizes a teacher who supports each classroom teacher by enriching the grade-level curriculum.
Here is a link to South Side Middle School’s test scores: http://www.greatschools.org/new-york/rockville-centre/3430-South-Side-Middle-School/?tab=test-scores. Would the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills community be satisfied with these results?
2011 ELA % Proficiency Math % Proficiency
6th grade 74 81
7th grade 70 86
8th grade 70 77
2012 ELA % Proficiency Math % Proficiency
6th grade 76 86
7th grade 74 80
8th grade 73 77
6th grade 44 50
7th grade 44 40
8th grade 53 40
We are completely offended that Mr. Nelson would call us bullies because we care about our child, as well as the other students in this district. We are only charged with asking for information about a program that has caused our child a considerable amount of stress. If we do not speak up for our children, then who will? Who will have our son’s best interest at heart? Advocating for his success in the classroom does not make us bullies. It is our parental responsibility to take care of our child to the best of our abilities. We are extremely educated on this issue. We know the program is not working for a large portion of students in the 4th grade. We urge you to allow teachers to pretest students on 4th grade concepts and to teach these students 4th grade math. The teachers need to cover concepts that students did not master last year. It is imperative that our child, as well as the other students, build a solid foundation in math.
David and Amy Alex
We have followed all of the correct procedures to obtain answers about The Advanced Learning Plan. We have met with teachers, the Principal, Kevin Russell, have written to the Board, read aloud our letter in an open forum, and exchanged emails with Dr. Schuster. It took a FOIA request to obtain what we knew to be true all along (as evidense by our response in a previous post).
We have always been supportive of the teachers at The Lane, as well as Casey Godfrey, Principal. The test results are not their fault. They are doing everything they possibly can for our child, as well as the other students. We couldn't ask for more dedicated teachers. The blame should not be placed on them or Mr. Godfrey.
We applaud Mr. And Mrs. Alex for continuing to pursue the truth, in spite of the fact that the administration and some board members have attempted to thwart them. Mrs. Alex's hard work benefits teachers, children and the community. For that, we thank her. Her background in education, her research, the facts on this website and in The Doings, and her experience as a parent with 2 children in D181 also support her. Unfortunately, not all parents are as knowledgeable about the situation as she is, or are as willing to subject themselves to the criticisms of one or two board members who feel that transparency in public schools is not necessary.
Parents should not be forced to file FOIAs simply to get answers. This lack of transparency and lack of respect towards parents and community members has to stop. What about the hours and time that Mr. And Mrs. Alex have spent to simply find out the truth? Unlike administrators, they are not earning a salary to try to help our children. It is absurd that we, the taxpayers, are forced to pay for district employees to answer FOIAs because our administrators refuse to answer valid questions via email, in person, or at BOE meetings. What is next? Are taxpayers going to be forced to pay the defense attorney bills of Dr. Schuster and others, simply because they refuse to communicate and cooperate with the public, and do not follow board policies? For example, why are the names of the committee members on the new math curriculum committee not listed? Although a board member asked for the names of those on the committee, the administration did not answer the question at the board meeting. Do they expect us to FOIA the names, so that administrative assistants are forced to take time away from their jobs, just because administrators do not want to answer questions? D181 administrators are setting a very poor example for our children, and a lack of awareness of SELAS goals.
The taxpayers, teachers, principals, and parents in this district deserve honest, meaningful answers without being ignored, criticized, or threatened with false policy violations. The recent, online articles in The Doings, as well as the comments of some board members at the last public board meeting are concerning, and should be raising some red flags. Along with the Alexes, and many other parents in this district, my husband and I are very concerned. We hope the administration will begin to realize that it is in the best interest of our children for us all to work together cooperatively.
Monroe dropped from 72 last year to 108 this year under Ms. Benaitis' fine leadership. A ranking of 72 is unacceptable, let alone 108.
How exactly did Ms. Benaitis earn a promotion when she should have been dismissed? Dr. Schuster said it was because of her exceptional performance. Seriously?
Our administration's hiring and promotion practices need to be reviewed. There is something very wrong here.
The BOE majority of 5 should take a good long look at themselves. Why did these people run for the board in the first place? Are they acting in the best interest of the community? No. Are they objective in their opinions? No. Are they concerned that parents are upset and frustrated? No. Are they supporting the parents who are brave enough to speak out against the administration? No.
The phony 5 are a disgrace to this district.
Oak School Parent said:
I'm happy Oak School did so well in the rankings, but I know it is not because of the sweeping changes and curriculum that has been forced on the teachers and students. Our students across the district are exceptional; of course they will continue to perform well. But there is an undercurrent of tutoring and home preparation that is the norm. And this is reality. My child's ISAT score props up the administration's new direction toward social justice and full inclusion. I know of many children, at Oak and other schools, who were tutored over summer and continue to receive tutoring throughout the school year. At school, some of the instruction has been watered down to such a level within the last couple of years, that some parents have remarked they send their children to school now for the "social purposes" while the real learning takes place at home. And while this may not be the norm for the majority, the fact that even a minority or smaller cluster of parents believe this is indeed a sad reality and should not be happening in this district.
I am horrified that Schuster thinks these results are reason to celebrate. Again, trying to sugar coat cold truths and put a spin on them.
As a Monroe parent, I experienced firsthand with utter disbelief what occurred under Dawn Benaitis' watch. I ponder whether the broader d181 constituency realizes how much havoc this woman wreaked and how many children she negatively and materially impacted.
The fact that the inexperienced and "intellectually challenged" Benaitis was promoted to her current position as a reward for putting her own interests ahead of our children is a pathetic commentary on the current state of affairs in d181.
Schuster, Benaitis and Schuster's board cronies Turek, Nelson and Yeager should resign immediately.
Below is the link to the Fall Survey the District is running. The survey is submitted anonymously. Although there is not a specific comment area relating to tutoring, there are several opportunities to type in one's own comments. If everyone with a child in D181 would simply type in a sentence such as: "I am currently or have in the past school year had my child tutored because of the failings of the District's curriculum," then perhaps the District could get an idea of how prevalent the practice is.
Just a thought.
Part of the issue is that the RTI and Special Ed processes are broken. Children are not getting what they need, regardless of how hard the teacher or parent pushes. There is no leadership here, as they are all so focused on fixing their mistakes from the 3rd grade math experiment and the Learning For All Plan. I believe that those students who need just a little boost, are falling further behind. That effects our test scores and our rankings. This year, they plan to push more services in, instead of giving kids what they really need to catch up. All this is point if your child is having some difficulties (especially in math), outside tutoring is a must.
The special education and RTi department is such a mess, that I am stunned that they are allowing someone like Madeline Will, a special education expert, to attend the next board meeting. Special Ed parents need to send her a few emails describing their children's experiences under the watch of Kurt Schneider and Christine Igoe these last few years. She would not be impressed. Although the Learning Dept. Is scrambling to deal with the disaster they created for last year's 3rd graders, and now are madly covering their tracks to hide the problems those now 4th graders and their teachers are experiencing, they continue to hide and deny the problems. I am disgusted by how much these administrators lie to the public in order to cover their own skins. Too bad they can't honestly explain that they made a horrible mistake and they are trying to rectify it. The cover up is truly worse than the crime.
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