Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hogwash! BOE Agenda Filled With It For Monday, 2/23 Meeting at 7pm, Elm School

(Source:  Wikipedia)
After reading the agenda information on BoardDocs for Monday's meeting, we bloggers were struck by the double-talk, incoherent justifications, and plain ole' hogwash that was documented. (Click to open BoardDocs.) Don White and his administration are the gifts that keep on giving - only in terms of providing loosely contrived excuses and edu-speak for reasons why he/they can't seem to present facts to provide data-driven decisions. Case in point: let's look at White's explanation in his Superintendent's report (click to open Report) as to why the Winter MAP scores will NOT be presented on 2/23:

"Winter MAP Report
The original goal was to have the Winter MAP report prepared for presentation at the February
23 meeting. Unfortunately, this is not complete and will be delayed until the March 9 meeting.
The report will include District- and school-level results with an emphasis on results for fall to
winter testing cycles. Like previous years, the report will not include any analyses related to
programming or grouping of students, as student level data is required for this to be
completed and the District has never had that level of data when working to compare how
many students met their projected growth as identified on the "Student Growth Summary
Report." Student level data has been ordered for the first time from NWEA, but they have
informed the District of a potential delivery during the week of March 27."

C'mon, Don. Surely you don't expect our community of highly educated parents to believe this report couldn't have been ordered back in mid January after students completed MAP testing, right? Teachers have told parents that MAP test results are returned to the district within 48 hours from NWEA, the testing company. Do you expect us to believe it takes more than a month to receive the report you requested? Sorry, we're not buying it. Could you possibly be stalling so your presentation falls around Spring Break time where parents might be less engaged? We suspect this is the case because the predicted slop scores will require a lot of cleanup and no one, including you, know what to do or say to justify the continuation of Kurt Schneider's pipe dream, Learning for All (some). You should be presenting the MAP results BEFORE a new costly math series is suggested and possibly approved. 

Take a look at the one chart Don White provided in his report that actually refers to MAP RIT growth and the sentence that precedes it:

(Source: Source: Dept. of Learning Math Adoption Report.)
Don't you find it interesting that supposed RIT gains are listed without the actual RIT scores?  How is it Don White's administrators can produce a simplistic chart with gains just for the pilot groups, but he can't seem to produce MAP results for other specific groups of students, like advanced, special education, etc.  Sorry, Don.  You can't have it both ways. Which leads us to the following regarding the Math Adoption:

"The Board of Education requested that the administration also consider student assessment
data as a part of the process for adopting new materials. Administration expressed concerns
about this request including:
• The only student growth data available is the MAP assessment.
• The MAP assessment is more procedural in nature as compared to the new materials,
which are a balance of procedural and conceptual understanding.
• The reliability of a singular data point to derive any substantial conclusions during a
short timeframe.
• This is the first time teachers are using this resource.
• MAP data is not available for kindergarten and grade 1 as students do not take this
Despite concerns, data from the winter MAP assessment was still collected and reviewed for
consideration in this process. It is important to understand:
• Grade 5 did not participate in the pilot.
• Data for grade 6 is available as the vast majority of students participate in 6th, 7th, or 8th
grade common core curriculum, which were the levels of math that were piloted.
• Some 7th and 8th grade students participate in curriculum/courses (Algebra I or
Geometry) that were not a part of the pilot. We currently do not have a system to
disaggregate data by course participation.
• Measurement/Data and Geometry were not taught by the time of the assessment for
the pilot at the elementary level.
• Geometry and Statistics/Probability were not taught by the time of the assessment for
the pilot at the middle school level.

Financial Impact:
The cost of materials for Math in Focus for grades K-5 (including teacher editions, student
editions, workbooks, supplementary materials, and manipulatives) is $270,823.29. This includes
the online resources for six years. Since the January 12, 2015 Board of Education meeting, we
have decided to add 6th grade Math in Focus materials to the purchase for students in 5th
grade. The cost will be $32,737.50. The total cost for Math in Focus materials is $303,560.79.
The cost of materials for Big Ideas for grades (including teacher editions, student editions, and
supplementary materials) is $143,915.20. This includes the online resources and workbooks for
six years.
Professional development with the new math resources will be started during the 2014-15
school and continued during the summer and throughout the 2015-16 school year. Math in
Focus professional development for 12 days of training with two consultants is estimated at
$67,200. Big Ideas professional development for 12 days of training with one consultant is
estimated at $42,000.
Total Cost for Materials: $447,475.99
Total Estimated Costs for Professional Development: $109,200
Total Costs: $556,675.99
The total material cost falls within the anticipated budget for the 2014-15 school year."

Whew, we need some fresh air on this one! That hogwash doubletalking breeze nearly knocked us over. Nothing like trying to justify adoption of a new math series when you can't seem to produce a student growth report to see how students are really doing? As one parent pointed out months ago - you had teachers manually inputting data from math unit tests last year. Where is that analysis? And how about our teachers being pulled out of classrooms all of the next school year for additional math training? Just what our kids need, more subs to cover classes while teachers get trained. But, wait; in the midst of teachers using a new math series, the district will be examining this:

"Digital Learning

Speaker to be provided by Agency (no substitutions): Ian Jukes, referred to in this
Agreement as the “Speaker”
Services to be provided by Speaker:
The Speaker shall provide the following services to the Client as part of the Client’s Digital
Learning Initiative for the fees set forth below:
Phase 1 (Spring 2015): $27,000
• Recommendation of preparatory reading for committee and stakeholders,
by no later than March 10, 2015. Heavy check mark
• 3 half day virtual (Fuze sessions with District Staff covering planning for
carousel planning, teaching and learning, and analysis of community goal
data on such dates as agreed to by the parties, to be completed by no later
than May 22, 2015. Heavy check mark
• 2 days on site for staff and community presentation on teaching and
learning, on such dates as agreed to by the parties, to be completed by no
later than May 1, 2015
• Includes two presentations to community, 1 presentation to staff
• On site facilitation of evening community goal setting process meeting
with community stakeholders, on a date as agreed to by the parties, to
be completed by no later than May 1, 2015.
Phase 2 (2015/16 School Year): $40,000
• Online survey of staff groups satisfactory to Client (developed
collaboratively by the parties) to be completed by no later than
September 30, 2015.
• 2-3 days of on-site classroom visits and interviews with teachers,
administrators, students, and parents) on such dates as agreed to by
the parties, to be completed by no later than October 31, 2015.
• Delivery of a digital launchpad report satisfactory to the Client, by no
later than December 31, 2015.
• 3.5 days of virtual Fuze sessions with District Staff to facilitate the
creation of an action plan to meet goals defined in Phase 1, delivered in
.5 day per month increments, on such dates as agreed to by the parties,
to be completed by no later than March 1, 2016."

Hey fellow taxpayers; how about coughing up $67,000 to explore digital learning within our district? Is this for real? Even if the D181 Foundation has so very generously agreed to front almost half of this expense (click to open report), we thought Don White sold himself to this district as being a "techie" who hard wired his last district (Troy 30-C) for Internet service. And didn't the BOE approve another former Troy administrator who now oversees data systems, in addition to Eric Danley overseeing all other aspects of technology? (Click to open Job description of Asst. Sup. of Information Services and Operations.) Wow, that administrative pen is getting top heavy. 

Seriously, we are very concerned. Not only do we have PARCC testing and Common Core implementation to contend with, our kids are still subjects in the Learning for All (some) Utopian administrative dream all the while a new math series is proposed to begin next year. This is insane. 

But, hang on; we saved the best bit of smelly hogwash for last:

Eliminating Four Classroom Teachers to Become "Coaches"

"This proposal would staff elementary classrooms with 103.5 FTE, a decrease of 4 FTE from the
2014-15 school year. The table below shows the recommended staffing levels for K-5, and the
corresponding class sizes.

Action Reason FTE Change Savings/Cost:

Decrease K-5 Classroom
Teacher FTE Enrollment -4 -$300,000.00

Decrease Instructional
Assistant FTE
Based on student need, as identified
in the IEPs -13 -$390,000.00

Decrease Custodial FTE Alignment with industry standards -2.5 -$75,000.00

Increase Instructional
Coach FTE
Job-embedded professional
development 4 $300,000.00

Future Considerations:
It is still unclear whether we will need to do a Reduction In Force (RIF) to achieve the
recommended staffing levels. This will be determined by how many of teachers currently on a leave of absence choose to return to work. An update on this topic will be presented at the
March 9 Board meeting."
Ok, folks. Is this acceptable? Do we really need 4 more instructional coaches? What direction and guidance are these coaches being given and by whom, Schneider and Benaitis? And how large will class sizes become as a result of losing 4 teachers? You can read through the enrollment projections available on BoardDocs for more detail, but our stance is that classroom teachers should remain as such to keep class sizes as low as possible. 

We encourage parents to review the information listed on BoardDocs (Click to open BoardDocs) and come up with your own conclusions. If you have concerns about the direction of the district and lack of administrative accountability with test results, etc. you should write a letter to the BOE or attend Monday's meeting and make a public comment. We encourage the teacher's union to speak up on behalf of their members. Our voices must be heard.

In the meantime, it's very obvious Don White is trying to get his and Schneider's wish list approved prior to the election on April 7. There is seemingly no limit to the dollars, waste and double-talk that continues. 

There sure is a heck-of-a-lot of mud in the trough that needs to be cleared out.


Anonymous said...

I agree with all the earlier posts on McCurry and Turek. But I would like to switch gears and talk about Monday's BOE meeting. I am deeply disappointed with White and the Department of Learning for the below reasons:

1. The department of learning wants to eliminate four teaching positions and replace them with 4 math coaches. They claim there are doing this due to enrollment changes. They are basing enrollment numbers for next year on current enrollment numbers from this year, and not on projected enrollment for next year. We haven't had registration yet and we pay thousands of dollars to a company to make projections based on those numbers. We should be waiting for the projected numbers before we make any staffing changes.

The administration is claiming that projected enrollment isn't accurate and that is why they are using current enrollment numbers for staffing next year. They then point to projected enrollment for FIRST GRADE from last year to show that projected enrollment is not accurate. First grade is always the wild card because people want full day kindergarten and leave the district for that year. That year is always a wild variable. But the other grades are usually spot on. You would never know that from reading the report.

This is so slimy administration! You are just trying to sneak more math coaches in because you know this plan cannot work without a ton of structural supports. How else can you meet all student needs in one classroom? Be honest! Stop lying! We cannot afford "fully integrated" classrooms. Do not make one change to staffing until we have actual enrollment numbers. And for that matter, any critical thinker on the BOE should ask how actual enrollment for last year compared to actual enrollment this year.

Stop with the lies!!!!!!!!!!!!! And news flash: the four extra coaches still will not be enough support to meet student needs in a fully inclusive classroom. Get off the balcony BOE!

2. There is no winter MAP data. The administration says they need more time. They also claim that the cohort data was never ordered from the NWEA so there is now a hold up (Benaitis - hello, your job!). So, we want more math coaches, we are continuing on with L4A, we want to start a digital learning initiative, but we have not one shred of data to prove that our "kiddoes" are better off now than they were before L4A?????? Get off the balcony BOE!

3. Part 3 of the Learning for All plan was supposed to be delivered on Monday. It isn't there. Way to stretch this out! Didn't the BOE ask for this report MONTHS ago? Get off the balcony BOE!

4. The digital learning plan is up for approval. It was promised that the learning plan would be finalized before approval so that the consultant would have a learning blueprint. Otherwise the entire exercise is a waste of time and money. We have no learning plan. So how can we approve the learning initiative? Get off the balcony BOE!

5. The math pilot materials are up for approval. There are still no reflections from the department of learning on what went wrong with the pilot, and what we learned from the exercise. Get off the balcony BOE!

I am not impressed. The taxpayers, students, teachers, and parents of this district have been let down.

BOE - time to get off the balcony and demand accountability!

Anonymous said...

I am speechless. While we are all still waiting for the 3rd installment of what Learning 4 All is, ANY corresponding data that supports it, and the results for the math pilot, we learn we will be throwing more money at digital leaning? We don't even know what math books we will be using?!? Why on earth would we not resolve L4A, order our math books, and figure out our common core curriculum BEFORE we start throwing money at computers, too?

It was bad enough that the district convinced PTOs that we should all buy iPads without any idea of what textbooks and curriculum they would correlate to, but now another $67,000? Our reading scores are going down, so we spend money on digital learning? And what about HMS and it's facility problems that halted learning for every middle school child in the district? We are still supposed to be sorting out facilities issues, why the rush to add computers into the mix? Unless Eric Danley and Dr. White have learned how to hard wire our children's brains with improved reading, math and writing skills, OR have figured out a way for computers to stop the water and mold issues at HMS, this is an absolutely absurd idea.

We already turned down the @181initiative last year. We haven't even been able to accurately interpret what Dr. Moon advised in her last $50,000 report, yet our district feels they are so in control of their runaway train that they had some free time to spend on a brand new consultation on digital learning? Digital learning is NOT part of the common core requirement , nor is our district is lagging behind in resources in this department. It is the CORE subjects that we are falling behind in. We do not need computers to improve children's learning - we need to improve teaching methods and materials. Period. Keep it simple. Why can't they focus on ONE THING AT A TIME! Take your ADD meds and focus. You cannot become an expert at anything by multitasking at such a surface level on so many things at once.

Anonymous said...

They need more technology to implement the L4All plan. In an inclusive math classroom, students have such a reduced amount of time with their teachers and they need something to do during that time. Bring on the Ipads and IXL while teachers are busy helping/challenging other students! Think its not happening already? Ask your child.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe they are trying to replace 4 classroom teachers with 4 "Coaches" to support this crazy plan. What we should be doing with 4 extra teachers is reducing class sizes wherever we can - a concept that has been PROVEN for decades to increase student learning!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm confused. So the district says it doesn't have the individual student data? If that's the case, what did the district send home to parents? I thought hat individual student reports are usually ready the day after they test.

As for getting rid of teachers and getting "instructional coaches," I too prefer smaller classrooms. Here's the rub: where do we put the extra classes, especially in schools like HMS? Class sizes there aren't dictated by ideal ratios, but by space concerns.

Also, what are people's thoughts on the lease for the admin building? According to BoardDocs, the district's going to lease an office space on 55th Street & Holmes. I'm not sure how I feel about that. At least it's better than when it was in Westmont, a community we don't even serve.

The Facilities report is… interesting. It says, and I quote, "All those interviewed said that D181 was “top notch” and literally one of if not the top elementary districts in Illinois." Also, "None of the interviewees said the district was slipping in its public perception and many indicated that the quality of the schools was a key draw for families to the community." Who were these interviewees? Schneider & Benaitis? Or are the interviewers biased?

However, I do agree with the facilities report in that there needs to be far more parking!

Anonymous said...

The administration hand selected a dozen people to be interviewed to give those opinions. Not very representative nor inclusive.

Anonymous said...

8:32 and 7:38, they interviewed 10 people. Par for the course with this administration. I would say I can't even believe it, but considering the incompetence of this administration, I can.

Anonymous said...

I understand the concerns expressed regarding the replacement of 4 FTE with 4 FTE math coaches. Ideally, I would like to keep the 4 FTE, but if I had to choose between the two, I would go with the math coaches. Having had 2 children complete the D181 elementary math curriculum, I believe that many of the teachers at this level are not properly qualified to teach math. I am certain that these teachers will be even more challenged with the implementation of a new, more rigorous math curriculum. I strongly believe that having a full time math specialist in every elementary school to coach and support these teachers is absolutely essential to moving the district's math curriculum forward. If you have children in elementary school, you may want to consider this. When resources are limited, it is best to choose quality over quantity.

Anonymous said...

Dear Confused,

You are correct, parents received their own children's scores. But our district did not analyze the trends in those scores publicly, nor have they acknowledged the downward trends and areas that need improvement. They received these results the same time we did, yet have not looked at or discussed the scores in public. So HOW they can claim that people have a positive impression about the schools is beyond me. If no one knows the truth, then how can anyone make a meaningful opinion?!? If people don't learn that the earth is round, then they will assume its flat. Same with our district's scores. If the district's scores are not divulged in public, how would anyone know - unless we wait for the Tribune's scores to come out?

This is a major responsibility of school administrators because it tells them where the weak areas of instruction are and where they need to spend time and money. If no one is going to do this, then fire the person/people who are supposed to analyze data and just wait for the FREE Chicago Tribune rankings. Also, there have been NO national, or even statewide assessments or studies that have ever indicated that our technology department is lacking! There isn't even a standardized test for that! So how and why our district decided to spend almost $70,000 on digital technology is ridiculous. However, our districts's falling scores in core subjects HAS been documented for years.......but NO one is addressing it.

If group data is not analyzed, it is far too easy for parents to assume that their child was the only one who did poorly, or perhaps well. The whole reason why schools try to force our kids to take those tests is so they can see where THEIR weaknesses and strengths are in the curriculum. It's their responsibility to strengthen the weaknesses, not ours.

Children would be better served by more direct instruction and assessments from the teachers on what was actually taught. This is the only way to see if children are learning what they are really being taught in school. Children learn what you teach them - if you simply teach them HOW to take a test on general subjects (PARCC & ISAT) that are already being adequately tested by the more highly respected MAP test, then you are wasting their time and our resources. If you spend money on unknown, unproven "digital resources" then you are taking a big risk with the community's money. We want our resources spent on professional development and proven resources for teachers to do their jobs better. Not computers that become outdated and require an unknown amount of tech support.

When the district administrators are paid so well to do their jobs, yet they refuse to do it, it is confusing! I hope this makes it clear why people are so disappointed with Dr. White lately.

Waiting for Real District Data Results

Anonymous said...

So tired of the empty promises, bad decisions, poor results and absence of sound reasoning behind decisions. It's been 3 years of this. When will it end???

Anonymous said...

Any chance that there will be an assessment of whether the district has successfully raised the floor and raised the ceiling tonight?

When are the BOE and the administration going to realize that they will ultimately not be able to change the subject?

L4A needs to conclusively deliver on that promise or the administration needs to admit failure and reassess whether d181 is going in the right direction.

Ultimately, they are not going to be able to fail on that promise, and continue to move unabated in this direction without a thorough assessment of why we are going this way, and how and when those objectives will be met.

Anonymous said...

Winter map just posted on board docs. The administration better offer up a huge apology tonight to fifth graders. I'm furious about what they have done to this grade!

Anonymous said...

Why does the district seem like "Harrison Bergeron," and Schneider is the Handicapper General?

Anonymous said...

12:10 hahahahahhahahaha

No. There is no chance of that.

You want to know where we started, where we are now, where we are going, how we will know when we get there, and how much better off/worse off the children are than they were at the beginning?

That is very offensive, and rude of you to ask the emperor of d181.

What you can do is play a game called "Count the empty cliches, nebulous statements, unsubstantiated opinions, and unanswered questions."

Some of my top pick phrases are listed below. How many can you count tonight?

1. We/they are education experts
2. These men are doctors!
3. They know what they are doing
4. They know how to do what is best
5. They and are working to give your kids the best education they can!
6. Have faith in them/us
7. Trust them/us
8. Believe in them/us
9. Benefits can't be measured
10. We feel that...
11. They are good people
12. They are doing their best
13. Be patient
14. Stop being negative
15. We believe...
16. Our assessment is...(with no supporting evidence)
17. We know because we are trained professionals

There will be winners for each of the four categories as well as overall:
1. Empty cliches,
2. Nebulous statements,
3. Unsubstantiated opinions/assertions,
4. Unanswered questions
5. Total confusion points (sum of 1 through 4)

Good luck!

Jill Quinones said...

Just as bad - CHMS 6th grade math growth woefully under projection yet they are piloting the program up for adoption. HMS 6th graders made growth projection even though they were using the pilot that was thrown out and replaced by something else. What does that tell us?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Schneider: Don't you DARE ever refer to the fifth graders as "that sensitive group with math" ever again! We now have three years of MAP data for this group. Man up and offer a long overdue apology. The truth is that this group of 400 students has experienced long lasting educational harm because of the "professionals'" reckless decisions. After the apology, you need to lay out how you intend to make this group whole. Those extra 4 math coaches better be allocated exclusively to this group and don't even think about taking away teachers from them.

Anonymous said...

Jill: Very astute. They will claim MAP is procedural and our students are learning conceptual.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

Finally, I have looked at Dr. White's proposed personnel changes. I am very upset -- I know, you don't care. Why would you allow him to add new administrative positions including an ASSESSMENT administrator AND keep Ms. Benaitis employed in this district? She was specifically promoted to replace Dr. Russell as the assessment administrator AFTER HE was promoted to be the Asst. Sup of the Dept. of Learning only 11 months after he was promoted to be the Assessment Director - a position that Dr. Schuster asked the BOE to reinstate two years after she asked the BOE to eliminate it because Dr. Stutz said she could do that job too and we needed to balance the budget. Dr. White has told me that apparently Ms. Benaitis didn't know that she was supposed to do assessment work. If any of you have told him that, or if any other administrator has told him that, then YOU ALL KNOW THIS TO BE FALSE. It was clear what she was being promoted to do. It was discussed in public and I made a public statement before I voted NO to her promotion that I could not support her promotion because she didn't have assessment qualifications, training or experience.
So I ask you now, if you need to create an Assessment Position, what happened to the one that was approved 2 years ago? More importantly, if you need to ADD ANOTHER administrative position, WHY AND WHAT VALUE does Ms. Benaitis add to the Dept. of Learning? I have recently heard that she has begun attending IEP's. Perhaps you should ask Dr. White or Dr. Schneider if this is true, and if so, ask them what is her Special Education background and training? (If it is not true, then I apologize, but parents have told me it is.)

What the district needs is a new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum.
The extra $ freed up from Mr. Frisch's departure should be spent on bringing back that ONE position and filling it with a person who actually has curriculum experience in a district of our caliber and who will help restore confidence in the district. (Because contrary to the facility's report that reflects the opinions of 10 handpicked people, the district does have a negative reputation right now.)

Finally, why are there so many secretaries, assistants and assistants to assistants? As a taxpayer I expect and demand that each of you ask why each administrator needs so much help? My husband is a partner in a lawfirm and he shares ONE secretary with 7 other attorneys. I urge you to carefully examine whether there is "FAT" that can be trimmed in the administrative salary budget.

Respectfully submitted,

Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mrs. Mayer. Lots of waste in d181 It seems to me that Dr. White took extraordinary steps to ensure that he got his friend, Ken Surma, from Troy 30c a job at d181. Ken Surma ran operations at Troy, but d181 already had an operations department ably run by Gary Frisch. So Dr. White created another department of operations, and we let him. I checked eight school districts, and could find no more than one operations department. By not filling Kevin Russell’s position in Learning, Dr. White was able to remain “cost neutral” when he hired Ken Surma. Also, it seemed a bit odd that Dr. White put Human Resources with Learning. Odd, until I realized, that Learning looked smaller when compared to Operations. By adding John Munch’s salary to Learning, Dr. White made it seem more feasible. Dr. White said, “human resources belong in Learning. I checked Troy’s website, and found Dr. White did not have HR in Learning. In fact, Dr. White had HR in an operation which was run by Ken Surma. Was Ken Surma’s job in jeopardy? The new superintendent of Troy merged operations into finance; this is what all eight school districts I checked do. In July eight of last year’s board docs you can see the slick reorganizations and justifications Dr. White used to sell the board on his plan. What’s interesting to me, is that Ken Surma does not pop anywhere before July 8, not even in a key committee mentioned in June 23rd board docs. Was Ken Surma even vetted? So now, we have two operations departments, is it any wonder why Gary Frisch resigned? Gary Frisch and his department have done very well for the district, but he is now joined with a second operations department which does everything Gary Frisch and his department have done. Two heads of operations is inherently troublesome. To add insult to injury, Dr. White, in his succession plan, put Ken Surma ahead of Gary Frisch. (see Board docs, 8/11/2014) Ken Surma, who just got hired in, was placed ahead of Gary Frisch, who has a lot more experience in d181. The succession plan is there in case of Dr. White’s absence. I can’t blame Mr. Frisch for resigning 2 years ahead of his contract which was just renewed last spring. By the way, looking at Mr. Frisch’s linkedin page, it sure looks like he is seeking a similar position. Now please don’t tell me Ken Surma is going to handle finance and slip into Frisch’s role. Ken Surma never ran finance. Troy30 had a separate finance and business department , and before that what did Surma do? The bottom line is we need a qualified business and operations person of Mr. Frisch’s experience. We don’t need two operations departments. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent of a 5th grader. Dr. White and all of his administrators should be fired immediately for trying to withold the MAP results. If it weren't for Ms Garg and her request, we would not know how poorly our students performed. Shame on this administration for harming our children. And shame on our BOE for accepting their excuses. We can't wait until the election to demand accountibility. I'm furious!

Anonymous said...

The information regarding Ken Surma and Gary Frisch really is troublesome. Unfortunately it isn't the only bit of information that doesn't add up in this district. Why ARE there so many secretaries in our district?
My husband is a part owner in an extremely busy company, and he has to share his secretary with 3 other people. 4 people to one secretary and that's pretty generous. Eveyone, including the other ownersof his company share secretaries. And there are over 30 full time "executives" working there!!

If social justice applies to our children, it should apply to our administration and their support staff as well. The quicker, more productive staff members and administrators should HELP the ones that work more slowly. Ha! I have a feeling the admin would be more likely to yank our own 8th graders out of a class and force then into a slave labor typing pool! Don't our administrators believe in typing anything themselves? Do they think they are above sharing secretaries, or doing "menial" tasks like typing, copying, and analyzing data?

The Parents said...

Due to technical difficulties, we are reposting Part 1 of the comment we received From Yvonne Mayer:

Part I:
The following is a letter I sent to the BOE and Dr. White:

Dear Dr. White and BOE Members:

I know, you don't want to hear from me. But here I am writing to you anyway. I am deeply concerned as a former parent and current taxpayer about what is happening in D181. I just finished reviewing Board Docs for tonight's meeting. Since I cannot attend it, I feel compelled to write to you.

First, I have had 4 students go through Hinsdale Central High School. Two have graduated, two are there now. I know many of you have current students or recent graduates, so you will be able to confirm what I am about to say. Ms Garg asked a Board question about how technology is used at HCHS. The answer was that "The primary platform in use at District 86 is Windows, with a student Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. All staff are provided with convertable laptops and has classroom carts of Windows laptops availble for student use. The District 86 BYOD program allows students to bring personal devices (laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc.) for use within the classroom. Discretion is left up to each individual teacher whether to allow personal devices in any class on any given day." It is NEWS TO ME that a formal BYOD program exists at the high school, or that technology is used there through those means or through the use of laptops on a cart. What is the source of your High School information, because I plan to call him/her. I have NEVER received any kind of communication from the high school in the last 7 years informing me of this PROGRAM. Only twice in 7 years did any of my children bring a laptop to school and that was only to use on a "work day" she was given to work on a project. Laptops are NOT used by the students during instruction. Some are used for testing, especially in foreign language classes. I believe some are used occasionally in Biology and one or two history classes. The use of TECHNOLOGY in the CLASSROOM is not pervasive at the high school. If your high school students have had different experiences, please let me know, but DO NOT allow the administrators answering Board member questions MISREPRESENT or SPIN what is actually happening at the high school and make it seem like classroom technology is promoted and there is a FORMAL PROGRAM. .

Second, have you looked at the 5th Grade Math Map Data that Dr. White posted TODAY? Why did it take until Ms Garg asked for it before it was made available? Well I know why. Because the data stinks! Doesn't it concern you? It should. Before you spend one penny on a digital learning initiative, paying yet another consultant with MY tax dollars, STOP and THINK! Shouldn't every available "extra" dollar be spent on classroom teachers or MATH TUTORS to help math students reach their growth target? And PLEASE don't fall for the one-liner I am sure you will hear tonight - that this is just ONE data point. IT IS NOT!

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to get those nutty cost cutting board members from D86 and have them run for D181 instead. Personally, I think they are insane, but since we have insane people running this district anyway, they might as well hire kooks who know how to save money. Right now, all we get are bad decisions, yet we are spending more money. Dr. White and his staff aren't worth the salt spread across Elm's parking lot!

D181 is wasting MUCH more money than D86 is! D86 taxpayers are getting a bargain compared to what D181 taxpayers are getting slammed with. At least D86's rankings aren't dropping like a rock every year like those in Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, and Burr Ridge elementary and middle schools.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Dr. White just can't let go of Dawn Benaitis. He wants to hire an actual assessment administrator and keep her around too. So what will Benaitis do? Sit around and polish her shoes? We can bet she will be getting a nice raise too, along with Schneider and Walsh.
All this while our kids are provided no advancement and are forced into full inclusion. And yet, we are still a top district according to some handpicked administrative toadies.
This district is a joke.

Anonymous said...

What they should do is e-mail the entire district a copy of the math plan and highlight the fact that they are eliminating the math tiers beginning in 2016-2017. That would be real transparency. Burying it in Board Docs and a poorly attended BOE meeting isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

Parents in the district need not be fooled by White’s letter this afternoon. You can try to put it in a pretty little package with a bow, but it’s still one classroom and one teacher left to “differentiate” to 25 kids. A workshop model for math? Really? Please. We have the best teachers but you’re asking them to prepare how many lesson plans? How many groups of math will be in one class? It’s not realistic. It sounds great in theory and boy it sure looks nice typed on D181 letterhead, but it’s not practical and it’s not possible to sustain with our limited resources. Maybe if we eliminated Benaitis and Schneider, freed up some cash, and hired enough teachers so that we could have 2 in every classroom, then maybe it could work. Maybe White is onto something after all!!

Anonymous said...

Nice try White! But you don’t fool me! I'm voting for real change in this district and hopefully the new board will send you packing along with Schneider!

Anonymous said...

Do we see the clothes yet? Do we see the clothes yet? Do we see the clothes yet? NO!!!!!!!!!!! We are not the idiots the Emperor and his tailors think we are!

Anonymous said...

The title of this post says it all: Hogwash! Guess the administration just won't stop slingin' the slop at us!

Anonymous said...

Excerpt from Dr. White's letter:

In conversations with District 181 parents recently, some new questions have surfaced that are answered below. I hope these clarifications are helpful as you learn more about our work in mathematics.

Is the District moving toward a "one size fits all" or "one pace fits all" model of math instruction? How will the District support students who are performing above grade level and below grade level?

This is a shallow attempt to distract from the primary question.

When d181 moved from tiered classes to integrated L4A classes, the BOE agreed to it based on the administrations promise that it would result in "Raising the floor, and raising the ceiling." Essentially, asserting that all students would improve with this method.

The real primary question:
The integrated classroom approach that has been in place for some time. Provide clear test results showing that student achievement has been enhanced in this environment, compared to the results that were being achieved with the tiered system.

If students are not achieving superior results, please explain why the L4A program should not be discontinued. If you recommend continuing it, please explain when you expect to see the anticipated results improvements.

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to the live stream of the board meeting. I have a few questions: why not consolidate the 2 director of learning positions, replace one with the assessment director, and add a dedicated SpEd director?

Also, why is there an HR assistant and an assistant to that assistant? seems like there are too many "assistants" in that title.

Anonymous said...

They can't even tell us where integrated classrooms are being used! Ms Vorobiev asked for that information 2 months ago and they obviously don't respect her enough to provide it. That or they know the report will confirm that things are out of control in this district. The administration is completely relying on the teachers to make sure that student needs are being met in 3-5, they've provided very little support and it will be even worse next year as we continue to move towards fully integrated classrooms. The direction that we have undertaken with absolutely no data to support it.

Anonymous said...

If any teachers are reading, could you please share your opinion about whether it makes sense to add more district level coaches? Specifically, what is more helpful to students - more teachers with direct student responsibility or additional coaches?

I understand and support the idea of using coaches for professional development but there seems to be an equally urgent need for more direct teacher-student interaction especially for math and reading and I'm not convinced that coaches address this need. Also, can coaches be effective as district floaters or should they be dedicated to a specific school?

The Parents said...

We want to remind our readers that we will not publish comments that are gratuitous slams at current administrators. We just received one such comment and unless you can provide some factual information to support your opinion, we will not publish it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think that qualified math coaches could be helpful to teachers - especially in K-2. But not if they are going to be used to facilitate inclusive classrooms. If we stick with tiers we don't need as many coaches for job-embedded training because teachers will not need to over-differentiate. Let's use those extra teachers to reduce class size where we can and have the space to.

Anonymous said...

I think that District 181 is completely off track in comparison to other competitive school districts. Our children lack challenge and stimulation. Our teachers are highly paid and given flexible work and life balance, scheduling, etc AS THEY SHOULD BE and yet, our parents are treated disrespectfully and our children are left holding the short end of the stick in school every day due to the learning for all plan.

I have a second grader who is subject accelerated at The Lane. I have a first grader who is in a pull out and receives instruction with a larger group of kids who do not have similar abilities. And yet she is supposedly being tiered for math by giving her exposure to 2nd grade concepts. She took the MAP and scored well and yet she is grouped with children who are learning how to do simple math facts, timed addition facts and subtraction facts. I do not believe that her larger group is at her skill level. THey didn't score as well as she did on the MAP. She is unchallenged. This is at the SAME SCHOOL. I do not understand why in some grades they tier, some grades they accelerate and some grades they do nothing. It seems bias and prejudicial.

I should add my daughter is pulled out for reading as well. And yet, there is no growth for her there either. I am disappointed with our school and our district.

Anonymous said...

7:48, subject acceleration begins in 2nd grade at The Lane.

That being said, probably not after this year if Schneider and White have anything to do with it. What I mean by that is Schneider wants a one classroom, one teacher preparing god knows how many lesson plans for a single lesson....probably 3 or 4 ability groups within the same class. Differentiation at its finest.

You're lucky to have a principal that fights for your children and is trying to do what is right for the students, placing students with similar cognitive abilities in the same classroom. It's not happening anywhere else in the district. So instead of speaking harshly about this person, you should get behind him and support his efforts. All schools in the district should be doing what is happening at The Lane. It may not be perfect, but you should thank your lucky stars that you have a principal that's doing what's right for all students!!

Anonymous said...

We have always supported our principal at The Lane. And we have always given him and our child's teachers our respect, support, kindness and appreciation. Time and time again. And we continue to do so despite our lack of engagement with school at this time. We do not believe that our child has been subject accelerated. We do not believe that our child is being given a fair shake. And we don't believe that acceleration or advancement in this district is done uniformly. That is the crux of the issue.

Perhaps all principals, including the ones that supposedly accelerate in second grade or first grade or fifth grade should be given clear guidelines; clear focus; clear resources and staffing and stronger training and tools to support differentiation, class and grade advancement and a flexibility to do things within those guidelines based on data points which include teacher observation but do not exclude objective data.

We hate the constant negative complaining and feedback. We hate feeling sad sending our child to school. We hate living here. But what we hate most is the lack of consistency and the lack of guidance and leadership from the top down. You cannot expect teachers and principals to know what is happening at other schools the way parents do. That's why leadership has to set the tone. Our administration has to set guidelines.

But we don't complain about it here. We take it up with our son's teacher and our principal. Complaining about it doesn't do anyone any good. And the truth is, it doesn't do any good for our child either.

Anonymous said...

I wish we lived in a school district that maintained an above board attitude about when and how differentiation happens; how it looks in our schools; and what it does to address the needs of all learners across grade levels and learning abilities. This year, we alienated ourselves from our child's school in our constant conversation and dialogue about how best to meet our child's needs. We are disenchanted with how our relationship has soured with our school's "popular" principal and teachers. We are are disappointed with how our principal didn't go to bat for our child with the same degree of enthusiasm he has done for other children at the school in similar situations. We are disgusted by how teachers make blanket comments about children's personalities and behaviors but forget to highlight that each child, despite their challenges, has positives too. We have yet to hear our smart talented child receive an ounce of positive praise or respect for his achievements thus far. Not once has a teacher told us that he is doing well. Not once have we heard that his MAP score was wonderful. Not once did we hear what a talent he has; how he is especially talented at a particular subject or that he is a good student. Nothing. We wonder if he had scored poorly on the MAP if he would be called to the rug and singled out for his failures in the same way his successes are ignored. We feel that school leaves us with no choice but to home school our child; hire tutors; purchase text books and resources and teach him at home. Teach to the child and student we know he is but the school has failed. Deep down in our hearts we believe that our son's well liked popular principal may subject accelerate in second grade as one blog post indicated but that there is no consistency as to who gets accelerated and that the whim of a teacher or the prejudice of another will affect those opinions. But the school relies on subjective teacher assessment and ignores objective common core based assessments, unit tests, and core assessment tools. Some kids who are well liked don't have to earn their teacher's support through a myriad of hoops and obstacles like my child underwent. I'm tired. Exhausted. I give up. Nothing happens at school that is objective and fair. Life isn't fair. And until my principal or my son's teachers retire or we relocate, i'm left feeling sick to my stomach at my son's attendance at school. A place where no one thinks well of him including himself. My elem student came home a month ago and asked me if his teacher said anything about his test. I asked him what test. He said his MAP test. I told him no-teachers don't comment on results. And he said-do you think they thought I did good? ANd I said it doesnt' matter. Sometimes people don't want to acknowledge you did well so you just continue to do great. :) And some day you won't need their approval.

Anonymous said...

9:54 You MUST complain. And you must provide the negative but factual feedback if you are not happy with what is happening for your child. But you must provide it to the BOE and Administration. They hold most of the power and are 100% responsible for this mess. They have refused to listen to the small (but growing) group of parents who have been complaining about these issues publicly. If you think lack of grade acceleration is problematic in first grade, just wait until your child reaches a higher grade level. It becomes absolutely necessary at that time and the Learning For All plan plans to do away with much of it, betting that common core depth alone will meet the needs of most students. Many teachers are afraid to speak out against the plan so it continues to be pushed forward despite the fact that there is no proven basis for it. If you don't speak out to the decisionmakers, things will never get better for your child.

Anonymous said...

11:18, principals and teachers have been given little to no support for 3 years in regards the issues you have raised. It has been a true struggle for many of them. I'm sorry your child has had a less than optimal experience but trust me, it is far worse in many of the other schools. At least yours is trying. Many of the others just smile and nod their heads in hopes of being promoted for compliance like Dawn Benaitis was. And under L4A your smart child will never be called on in class or praised, It would be anti-SELAS to focus on superior academic performance in school. We are now just focused on "raising the floor".

Anonymous said...

To 11:18:
We feel your pain. You are not alone; there are many others with you, but for whatever reason, they are afraid to speak up or write letters. This will prove to be a costly mistake as our kids cotinue to get less than they deserve.
I have some hope with the upcoming election that a new board will demand accountability and make some changes. If this means they have to give White the boot and send his posse in the department of learning packing, so be it. I didn't move here to be paying high taxes for one-size-fits-all and SELAS on steroids. I would rather pay to get these fools out of our district and bring a staff in who knows what they are doing.
I intend on voting for: Burns, Grey and Czeirwic.

Anonymous said...

"We hate the constant negative complaining and feedback. We hate feeling sad sending our child to school. We hate living here. But what we hate most is the lack of consistency and the lack of guidance and leadership from the top down. You cannot expect teachers and principals to know what is happening at other schools the way parents do. That's why leadership has to set the tone. Our administration has to set guidelines.

But we don't complain about it here. "

You just did, silly.

Anonymous said...

Dr White will change with the demands of the BOE. Just look at the Troy website to see what he supported there. Change the BOE and he will change.

You think Math coaches will help? Take a look at the scores of the two middle schools. One with a math coach (CHMS) and one without (HMS). Hmmmm HMS scores are higher. Teachers DO NOT need another person telling them what to do! They need smaller class sizes and competent leadership.

Anonymous said...

You could base a TV show on district 181 (and 86), and not have to add any additional drama. I wonder how many people outside our community would identify with it, and how many people would think that there's no way a real school district could be this outlandish.

Anonymous said...

The parents in the Winnetka school district know all about our drama. A few years ago they tried a plan like this and what happened? Scores and enrollment plummeted and parent dissatisfaction went through the roof.

Check out this slide show beginning on slide #17

Anonymous said...

Another parent just told me that the Winter MAP scores were on Board Docs on the district website. I just looked at them and the fifth grade math scores are still awful!!! What are they doing about this?? Why are they still so far below the national and district average? How will my son be able to meet the challenge of middle school and high school math with all of the gaps he must have?!

Anonymous said...

We are Lane parents. We have confidence in our principal. As a family who is very private about our child's academics and abilities we have yet to post on this blog or speak out loud at public forum segments of the BOE.

We believe that The Lane does the best it can to differentiate children without guidelines, criteria and district level mandates or performance measure to guide this decision making. We also believe that unfortunately because there are no guidelines that acceleration and advancement are done wily nilly with little real emphasis on objective data.

Case in point: after numerous talks with our principal and staff leadership we are left disappointed, hurt and angry at our child's situation. We remain respectful to the school and its staff and this includes the principal. We believe that at school teacher input and feedback and observation outweighs objective data like unit tests, MAP assessment, classroom performance and ability. We feel that some kids are accelerated because they have teacher observation AND data. We feel that some kids are accelerated because they have teacher observation. But no child is accelerated if they have only objective MAP and unit data. This is our child.

After our young child took the MAP test and scored well, we approached the school thinking finally change would happen.

This was not the case. Our child is in a group with students who took the MAP and scored similarly well but also in a group with children with no MAP and unit test data but who show academic promise and teacher observation puts them as equal to our child who outscored everyone.
We took our case to two district level teachers at other schools in this community. Both homeroom teachers evaluated our child after school with a benchmarking assessment designed to determine their readiness to learn and capability to learn one and two grade levels ahead for math. The results were something we were curious on because based on MAP scores our child is ready for 3rd grade concepts, homework and testing. Based on these two D 181 professional teachers with 10 plus years of teaching experience, our child is ready for two grade levels above w/ homework and evaluation scoring an 83 percent on the mid year assessment for pilot math materials Math In Focus and higher for EveryDay Math. More importantly, when asked to "talk about his math" this child in own words was able to explain sufficiently how problems were solved, how problems were approached. Bravo you say? No.
Teacher observation is the sole criteria looked at that drives decision making by our principal. Our child isn't favored, isn't well liked and isn't that popular kid in class or among teachers. Awkward, perhaps silly and even unsophisticated come to mind. Teachers describe our child as odd and off base and lacking confidence and charisma. A child with a similar MAP score at another school is two grade levels ahead in math.

We are upset and frustrated. We are not disrespectful to our school or our principal. But we do believe that our child has a target and our family does too. We are perceived as problems and irritants because we complained one too many times and now we disagree completely. We worry that next year will be the same or worse.

This is the problem with D 181. Teachers from one school may think highly of your kid but another school's teachers do not. So teacher data while important SHOULD NOT REPLACE HARD COLD FACTUAL DATA THAT IS OBJECTIVE.
There is no consistency. There is no criteria. There is no guideline. This is the problem in D 181.

Anonymous said...

Response to 10:58:
Yes, Dr. White will not have a choice but to change because the BOE is his boss. But the problem now is he has allowed and promoted the changes suggested by Schneider and they both have a huge mess on their hands. White does not have the curriclum background or assessment knowledge to fix the mess he has helped to create. Take a look at his resume posted on this blog.
He can't hard wire his way out of this disaster.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 12:44 but I disagree with some of what you say. Yes, there should be consistency and guidelines in place but a teacher's subjective opinion about a student's classroom performance and readiness must always be included in decisions regarding how to place a student. Certainly if you feel that an error has been made you should pursue it, and our teachers aren't all perfect and at the same level, so maybe there has been a mistake made for your child but, in many cases, a teacher may have a valid reason for his/her decisions and this should be strongly considered. There must be a combination of subjective and objective data used to place students despite the fact that, on the surface, it may lead some to believe that there are inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

No one thinks teacher input shouldn't be included. It just shouldn't replace factual data from tests and objective assessments either. So if two students present with similar data points, I dont think teacher input should sway one child and not the other if the other child doesn't have teacher support. It should be noted, recorded or whatever but then children should be given an opportunity and then given guidelines for success or failure. Otherwise, who is to say that one teacher at one school isn't same feedback as another? That isn't fair esp for kids who are not well liked or well perceived.

Anonymous said...

Can we stop talking about The Lane? We are a Lane family. We have a first grade son and he is differentiated. It isn't ideal. It isn't even what we believe he deserves. But it is for now, a good option and it is better than nothing. We still wait for more and want for more but we don't feel that is our principal's fault or our teachers fault. We feel it is a combination of no guidance from the district level and the unfortunate situation of teacher input valued higher than objective data because there is not enough guideline or criteria established to drive decision making. That's the bottom line. The Lane isn't ideal but it is better than most schools. The Lane principal is willing to at least talk to parents and listen even when they don't agree.

Anonymous said...

Our children are 3rd and 5th grades at Lane. We have one kid accelerated and one kid advanced. They are very different. We agree that Lane principal is willing to do more than most. We also agree having two different learners at one school that there is no objective criteria and there has to be. What's happening now is that our one child has been accelerated 4 grade levels for math and our other child has been accelerated, remediated, pulled out, pushed in, and the list goes on. We are happy however with how The Lane has met our needs. We just think that more people would be happy if there were guidelines and criteria as well as teacher input.

Anonymous said...

If McCurry and Turek are elected, and Burns, Gray and Czeirwic are not, everyone better move ASAP before our schools tank and our property values tank with them. Ironically, McCurry's hubby, a realtor, will loose out the most!

Vote #1, #3, and #5 (Burns, Gray and Czeirwic) on April 7 to save our schools and our property values. Anything else would be a grave mistake.

Will the Hinsdalean have to guts to endorse the most qualified candidates, or will they instead cave to political and financial pressure (McCurry's husband is a big advertiser in the paper and Turek represents the administration establishment)and endorse candidates that are not qualified but instead are financially and politically favorable to the paper (McCurry and Turek)? Lets hope they maintain their integrity and do the right thing. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Attention Walker and Prospect parents: your fifth grade students performed amongst the worst in the district in math on the Winter MAP.

Prospect: 61.9% of your fifth graders FAILED to make their growth targets.

Walker: 54.8% of your fifth graders FAILED to make their growth targets.

Walker parents - despite what your PTO president is telling you, your school is NOT doing great. Do not be fooled!

Claredon Hills residents - please do not vote for McCurry or Turek. Your children deserve better.

Hinsdale: your schools performed no better. Below is the percentage of 5th graders from each school who FAILED TO MAKE THEIR GROWTH TARGETS in the winter MAP:

Elm: 55% failed to make growth
Madison: 51.2% failed to make growth
Monroe: 53.1% failed to make growth
Lane: 62.3% failed to make growth

Please remember: children who are bused to the middle school for math were included in these percentages. That means these numbers in actuality are far far worse because those students propped up the numbers.

Make to right choice April 7.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it is time to end Learning for All (L4A) Part 1

In the last two years, the d181 administration has replaced tiered student grouping for math with an integrated approach the call "Learning for all."

This approach was sold to the community based on the promise that it would deliver better result for students and came with a clever slogan, promising to "Raising the floor to raise the ceiling" of d181 achievement / test results. The administration squelched parent objections and won BOE approval by promising that L4A would improve math performance of students at all levels. Who could oppose that?

The reality is that L4A approach is untested in a district like d181, and it appears that the administration pushed this because it is a part of the social justice agenda that is a favorite of Dr. Schneider. Unfortunately, the BOE majority allowed blind faith in the administration to replace critical thinking skills and approved this nonsense.

Fortunately, there has been a small, but determined, band of highly educated parents who have persisted in challenging this self-aggrandizing group think, arguing that there is no data and evidence that this approach will work in a high-performing district like d181. Would it make sense to combine the schools best and worst athletes into one group called "athletics for all" and expect that it would be better for all of them than the old "tiered system"? No! That would be obviously dumb. This is the same thing for math.

Unsurprisingly, in these integrated classes, top students report sitting bored and unchallenged in the classroom, or being treated as support staff and being asked to help other students. Teachers admit that they feel pressure to spend most of their time with the low end of the class. Of course they do. That was obvious from the start. The problem is that this lower level of challenge for top students will predictably result in a lower level of achievement for the top students. Furthermore, the challenge of working with a broad range of students simultaneously will inevitably reduce the teacher’s efficiency and effectiveness in assisting students of all levels.

Sadly, vigilant parents have pointed out these issues at BOE meetings consistently, but have continued to be ignored, scoffed at, and told that the administrators are highly trained education professionals who know what they are doing, that it is not right to question professionals, and that the parents just are not smart or educated enough to comprehend the benefits. Essentially their position is that only the administrators and BOE can truly appreciate the emperor’s new clothes.

Now, there is finally going to be data. MAP results will finally provide the administration and BOE with an opportunity to take full credit for delivering on their long-promised grand achievement of “raising the floor to raise the ceiling.” This is a golden opportunity to validate the BOE decision to go with their gut feelings in the face of persistent, well-reasoned criticism from parents.

Troublingly, the administration has now had MAP data for some time, but has gone silent, and requested a delay in making the results public. Clearly the data do not fit the narrative that has been fed to the community. Facing the reality of hard data, the administration is not admitting defeat; they are changing tactics. Now they plan to contend that the shift to the common core standards and new texts make it impossible to tell whether L4A has been beneficial.

Instead of reinstating the more successful tiered approach, the administration has begun to actively distance themselves from the long-promised "raise the floor to raise the ceiling" results, replacing that promise with the claim that the long-awaited results and supporting data are now irrelevant and arguing that the district should persist with the L4A approach while continuing to refuse to provide any evidence that they are achieving results.

Anonymous said...

Does someone have the percentage of students who didn't make growth at Oak? There is a a lot tutoring going on.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with everything previous posters have stated about the lack of a consistent quantitative measure to select children for enrichment and acceleration, what is the big rush to get services for 1st and 2nd graders? When my children went to The Lane, and before that, Madison, no one's children got services that young. I've been told that gifted specialist's worth their salt know that those tests are not so reliable at that age. Anyone can train their child all summer and after school to memorize the multiplication chart, but it's the higher level thinking skills and more advanced concepts after 2nd & 3rd grade that are more indicative of giftedness.

Parents need to stop worrying about gettting a head start in 1st grade so that their kids can skip ahead of their neighbor's children. I think a great deal of the dissatisfaction is due to the fact that schools had no business accelerating children in K, 1st & even 2nd grade in the first place. If any child was truly that gifted in 1st grade, they should have been bumped up at least 1 grade while they were in 1st grade. To say that your child is 4 years ahead of other children, without ever having seen the individual scores of the entire class is not fair, or even logical. Sorry, but that is how I feel. If you have proof that you've seen everyone's scores, fine, but I don't think you do.

If, as you stated, all schools in the district applied the rules and cuts offs consistently across the entire district, it would be a step in the right direction. Relying only on the subjective opinions of one teacher, not even a neuropsychologist, is silly! You are right to be upset. But you have to realize that you are facing much bigger problems: Learning for All will basically eliminate grade level classes AND stop any and all children from moving up into a higher grade level for math! If it was me, choosing between putting my 1st grader in 3rd grade VS. putting a more mature child in an accelerated math, I would say the latter is the better choice. Better yet, they should focus on what math books they will be buying and what they can do to imporve literacy scores. I am not sure why they are chosing Math in Focus if the children at CHMS who used it did more poorly than the children at HMS who didn't use that book. Another illogical choice from Dr. Schneider and friends.

In 1st grade, children with earlier birthdays are already at a more blatant advantage than those with late birthdays. Developmentally, many children bloom later. Parents need to show some restraint and patience and realize that if they really want what's fair, they have to be willing to give up the early, less reliable early identification process. Sure, if money were no option, we could offer everything to everyone beginning in Kindergarten (and start with full day K) but given our administrators, I do not have that much faith in them to make those kind of decsions. It is better to have more reliable tests later on, than tests that give so many false positives too early.

D181 should just go back to the way they used to do it right before Dr. Schneider came and introduced his social justice policies. Test all the 2nd graders and wait until 3rd grade to accelerate them. Or even wait until 3rd grade to test them and accelerate in 4th. But this time, straighten out the selection bias that previously existed. I understand everyone's frustration, but if you want to be treated fairly, I think its also important to acknowledge that fairness doesn't mean that you always get what you want all the time. When everyone in the district is equally dissatisfied, (or equally satisfied for all of you optimists), that is when we will be finally moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it is time to end Learning for All (L4A) Part 2

While this manipulation is not lost on observant parents, the administration and the BOE majority apparently believe they are too committed to the L4A approach to be bothered by facts and evidence that do not confirm their narrative. Unfortunately, our children are paying the price for their failings.

Unified in their unquestioning faith in the administration and in their denial of facts, evidence and reality, Turek, Yaeger, Clarin, Nelson, and Vorobiev continue to ignore persistent public comments, hollowly nodding like grinning, big-eyed bobble heads at the emotional pleadings of parents, while continuing to refuse to demand data or any evidence to support the administration’s claims as the dissatisfaction of parents continues to mount.

The administration and BOE’s persistent refusal to act in the best interest of the district’s children puts the onus for action back on parents. How high of a price do the children of this district have to pay before a critical mass of parents take action? Please get informed, attend BOE meetings, and vote in the upcoming election. Tell d181 BOE members to start listening to parents, stop making excuses, and either demonstrate that they have achieved the promised results, or reinstate tiering in d181 to meet the needs of all students, and end the failed L4A initiative.

Anonymous said...

Oak 5th grade: 47.7% failed to make growth in math.

Those numbers were propped higher for Oak because they have a higher percentage of students bused to the middle school. And they are still really bad!

Anonymous said...

To the parent who provided the Oak percentage - thank you. This means nearly half of the 5th graders did not meet their growth targets. Pretty bad when most of the class is being tutored and has been since the nightmare began in 3rd grade.

Anonymous said...

Two questions:

1. Does anyone know how these rates compare to last year?

2. Why do we have to get this information here instead of from the school district?

Anonymous said...

How can we raise our voices to the greater community without fearing retaliation? We worry that we have severely cut ties with our principal, teachers and administration all because we questioned decisions re our child's placement, her scores, her "data points", her teacher's observations. We consistently maintain that while we believe our principal and teachers are doing the best they can, we do not believe that they are given the tools, guidelines and resources to implement differentiation or meet student needs. Math does not align for lower and higher grades. Children are asked to "dig deep" and understand the language of math and yet, there is no documentation or materials or work to support this and evaluate this. AND it isn't the same consistent communication from other schools. It is disappointing to say the least. But hurts the most is worrying that our child will be retaliated against because we do not believe her needs are being met and we expressed concern. So what now? How do we make ourselves heard without fear?