Monday, March 2, 2015

Greatest Hits at 400,000! Keep 'Em Coming....

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge our readers who have been cranking out the hits since the launch of this blog, which officially was May 28, 2013. The hits have been rising off the charts super fast in recent days, to which we are most appreciative. The energy and comments give us the motivation and determination to see the process of change work through an elective process, which we hope will be the case come April 7. 

In the meantime, we eagerly await the upcoming D181 candidate debate this Thursday, March 5 at Hinsdale Middle School beginning at 7pm. We hope the debate will provide residents with a forum to ask questions of the candidates; we are also hopeful the Hinsdalean staff will display the utmost professionalism and fairness when questioning candidates. After all, the debate should be about the election process and proper vetting of candidates, not an opportunity for a local newspaper to be on the defensive or to show preferential treatment toward any candidates. There is not a chance that would happen, right? Ahem, cough, cough.....

Seriously, now more than ever we need to be engaged in the election and in district matters. Let's not forget - round 3 of the Learning for All (Some) plan will be "presented" at the next BOE meeting on Monday, March 9. As we rejoice in our greatest hits, we can already hear the administrative chuckles, giggles, sighs, deflection, double-double talk, justifications, and abject petulance if questions arise that can't be answered (always the case). Readers, now is the time to show up and be heard. 

See you at the debate on Thursday 7pm at HMS and the BOE meeting next Monday, March 9, 7pm at Elm School.


Anonymous said...

I have recently come back to this site to follow things in advance of the election. I am trying to sort out fact from hysteria. Most of the complaining seems to be focused on the elementary schools and it looks to me like our Middle Schools are not where they should be. Everyone says how awful D 181 ranking are and how we have to dump our houses now because everything is so bad. I went to the Illinois Elementary School rankings to check it out.

The first 8 or so spots are the Magnet schools in Chicago and elsewhere. Our very own Madison was 10th, Oak was 17th, Lane was 19th. The little geniuses over in Oak Brook (AKA Butler) only came in 28th place. So half of our district is superior to Winneka, Wilmette, Oak Brook etc. Prospect is 46th and Elm is 58th. When you look at rankings near these schools, you will see schools from Wilmette, Deerfield, etc near them. Go to to see the list for yourself.

The real outlier is Monroe, down at number 98, behind the Berwyn schools. My children went to Monroe and I believe at one time Monroe was either the first or second ranked school in the district and also very high in the state. The kids walking around the neighborhood don't look any dumber than the kids that I saw 10 years ago!

So what is going on??? Do we have a problem confined to one building that I believe is traced to high principal turnover and one very weak principal in particular. ( not the current guy, the one before).

Are the problems related to personnel or curricula? Since all the schools use the same system and 5 of them are pretty much at par with our snobby suburban neighbors, I don't know to be panicked or not.

The Middle School picture is not as good. Our friends at Butler are number 10 and McClure in Western Springs is 16. HMS is 25th and CHMS is 31st. Not terrible, but we are slightly behind some similar districts in the better west suburbs and the North Shore.

My kids are done with school,so I am not as involved as I used to be. Please enlighten me using FACTS as to what I am missing.

A British Tar said...

Does anyone know when we'll get the PARCC results? I've heard conflicting rumors. One rumor is October. The other is not at all and Illinois is just using this as a test of the system. I'm not a fan of either case.

On a different subject, is anyone coming to the Meet the Candidates Night tomorrow at HMS? It'll be interesting to see who's there and what they say. I've the "Conservative Slate" for D86 (i.e. Skoda & Buddies) won't be there. Rather than coming there, they're having a $30/plate fundraiser. Sounds like they care about you only if you pay them. And even then, they might not be that interested in you, just your money.

Anonymous said...

11:41, welcome back. There are way too many things going on in D181 to summarize in a response to your post. At this point I think that you will, unfortunately, have to look back through the previous posts. It is easy to sort through the hysteria and hyperbole to get the facts. Just look for the well-written, well reasoned parent comments. In particular, those from people who seem to have longer term experience and viewpoints and who are looking at the issue from a global, not individual, perspective.

For a start, take a look at the issues related to this year's 5th grade class, the prototype for the Learning For All plan which was implemented in our district 2 years ago. I don't think you should be panicked, but there are many experienced parents and teachers who feel that our children are not receiving the same education they did even 3 years ago. It is worth investing the time and effort to get up to speed. Much of the information contained in the blog posts are easily verifiable in BoardDocs and podcasts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 2:11. I guess my global comment is if you take away Monroe, our elementary schools are above, at or near where they should be. Which is on par with suburbs with similar demos such as Oak Brook, the New Trier area, the Stevenson area, etc.

I get that L4A is not popular, but based on state rankings, I think it is premature that we all sell our homes and move to Oak Brook.

Anonymous said...

2:52,the effects of the Learning For All plan are not yet ascertainable by rankings, it has only been in effect for 2 years - and has had spotty implementation at best except for this year's 5th grade class. Monroe's poor performance stems from bad leadership prior to its current principal. Most of the posters' concerns stem from their experiences with their own children, the fact that what has been proposed for the future makes little sense and is not based on fact, and feedback from other parents and teachers. Not time to move yet but many parents with 5th graders are looking at other options. And rightly so, in my opinion. If this is the prototype we should all be concerned. As parents, we use the blog to inform ourselves. Very few posters are advocating a move. Yet.

Anonymous said...

Are you aware that Monroe is the largest school in the district?

Anonymous said...

Dear 11:41,

You are missing quite a bit, actually. The rankings you rely upon are, shall we say, "unofficial." The website you cite appears to rank schools strictly by ISAT scores. Consequentially, the real picture is not as rosy as you paint.

The bloggers did an excellent analysis of the official rankings back in October. You should read it here:

I'd be interested in your impressions, particularly given the downward trend, overall, and even the schools that made gains, didn't regain the ground they lost in previous years.

Jill Quinones said...

11:41: You left out Walker School - 39th on the listing you cite. Always in top 10 when my first child went through in early 2000s. What a change.

A British Tar: No official word on PARCC score reporting date other than that they will be reported and both March and EOY (May) testing will be reported in the Fall - to Parents and Districts.

What is NOT being done with this round of scores is any kind of reporting out in the School Report Card format we have become used to which allows for school rankings, so that info will not be generated.

Last I heard, PARCC hadn't figured out what to use as cut scores, so my confidence in the meaningfulness of any reported results is slim to none.

The Parents said...

Can parents whose kids took the PARCC assessment today let the blog know how the testing went? Were there any technology problems? What did the students think of the test? Did teachers give the students homework?

Anonymous said...

Lots of tears and computer glitches at my kid's school yesterday. One kid got 3/4 through test , computer glitched and erased and the kid had to retake the whole test. The rest of the group had thirty minutes of glitches on a timed test. My child came home anxious and upset. Very few kids finished the test.

Anonymous said...

ISBE said that the PARCC test results will not available until late fall at the earliest (much later than ISAT results).

And yes, Ms. Quinones is correct in saying that they haven't determined the cut scores. They also haven't figured out what data will be reported and what the reports will look like. A significant waste of effort...

Anonymous said...

I realize this test is a state mandate. But I wish White has taken a page from the Winnetka's super and been a little more honest about the test. The rosy glossy picture things insults our intelligence as parents.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the use of the term "cut score" in this context. Usually if you don't score above the cut score, you're not eligible for something. Admission to MENSA would be an example.

What does it mean here? What happens if one falls below the cut score?


Anonymous said...

As far as the impact of the L4A plan on the D181 students, it will take 3-4 years to see measurable results from this current program. As a former teacher and D181 BOE member, I can tell you it takes 3-4-years to see the good or the bad results. That is why, after Mary Curley left the district, there were the "Blue Ribbon Schools" in D181. All that was the results of the Curley Administration because there is that "lag effect." So, just wait and see what happens! I can tell you from my experiences and knowledge of education, it isn't going to be pretty!

Anonymous said...

Just because it is a state mandate does NOT mean your children have to take it. Federal law clearly states that our children are not subjects of the state. And if our district claims that they will lose funding if our kids don't take the test, what about the instructional time our children lose? That is worth money, too. The superintendents in IL need to speak up and DEMAND shorter tests with quicker, meaningful results!

Anonymous said...

And I thought Dr. Curley was just average! She was a great politician, but her admin team was bad. Remember when they could not even figure out how to compute the correct amount of property taxes due the district?

I never thought we would look back on that era as the good old days.

Her two successors were beyond awful and of course we had two interim supers between the two terrible supers.

How do the smart people we put on the board make such terrible decisions???

Maybe that is a good question for the candidates tomorrow night:

Tell us about your experience in hiring, motivating, and evaluating senior executives.

I am hoping and praying that Dr. White is the long term answer for this district. My big issue is he needs to get rid of some of the losers that were holdovers from previous administrations.

Anonymous said...

To the previous commenter: you are dreaming if you think Don White is a long term answer to the problems in this district. He is helping to create more problems! Kurt Schneider is really running things, make no mistake, and he is among the losers you believe should be given the boot. All of these people, including White, need to go.
BTW: I would gladly take Curley's leadership and her administrative team over these clowns any day of the week.

Susan Blumberg-Kason said...

If you have a question for the candidates tomorrow, you need to submit them to the Hinsdalean in advance. Questions will not be taken from the floor.

Anonymous said...

As a parent who has been closely following what has been happening in the district, I am very concerned that administration will try to push through voting and approving the LFA plan as presented prior to the new board is seated. Unfortunately, there are many unanswered questions that have been asked by 2 board members (Garg and Heneghan).

1. The presentations have not and will not include science even though we are in a renewal cycle for science materials.

2. The upcoming meeting may include a MAP data analysis, however, past presentations of data analysis have been flimsy at best. Dr White needs to be objective and not make excuses about the dismal results.

3. In addition, The proposed plan for math does not meet needs of all students.

4. The needs of advanced learners have been completely ignored.

5. Reading and ELA curriculum is lacking. Children's abilities to infer deeper meaning is lacking. Writing abilities are not at grade level for many. Basic grammar is not being taught well enough for children to know what a noun or a verb is.

6. The digital technology initiative has been approved without the adminstration's understanding of what our needs and goals are. In fact, it has been suggested by adminstration and D181 Foundation that the consultant Ian Jukes will help us define our goals and our curriculum through his recommendations for technology. Isn't that the job of our district administrators?

These are major issues that need to be addressed by this administration before anything is voted on. The LFA plan is not meeting the needs of all students.

We need parents at these meetings and parents writing to the BOE to demand that these issues be addressed.

We also need to elect the candidates that are going to hold this administration accountable for what they are proposing-Burns, Gray, and Czierwic.

And this new board needs to be seated prior to any voting as they will be the ones dealing with this in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 10:58, upon further reflection, Dr. Curley was very engaged. She knew our names, she knew my daughter's name. She did not seem to be a creature of the educational consultant crowd.

I am disappointed that after two weak supers, we seem to be back where we started.

Our kids only get one shot at elementary school, one shot at middle school and one shot at high school. D 181 just cannot be a laboratory for unproven theories.

If anybody supports the current admin, I have an open mind and would love to hear the alternative case.

Jill Quinones said...

8:46: PARCC Cut scores refers to what score means Exceeds State Standards, Meets State Standards, Below State Standards, or Academic Warning.
(those are ISAT terms, don't know if PARCC will be the same)

At the school where I teach (not D181), today was Day 2 of PARCC ELA for 6th Grade. I did not administer it, but it seemed to go pretty smoothly. Heard student chatter about the small number of questions on the test. No significant technology gaps - I was kind of surprised!

Also surprised to read on this blog that they knew of a child who had a completed most of the test and had to retake. When we trained we were told that if such glitches occurred at most 3 answers would be lost as the PARCC system swept the answers in onto the server every 3 questions. Depending on the question a child was on and when the last sweep was, they would lose 1, 2 or 3 answers at most. Not that the loss of even 1 answer is good, but it was interesting to hear that maybe that is not so.

Jill Quinones said...

Interesting article in Education Week about an independent study of about 20 math programs, including the 2 D181 just adopted, and how they DO NOT align with the Common Core State Standards.

I just sent an email to Drs. Schneider and White expressing my concern that students were being held accountable for CCSS mastery yet the curriculum didn't align. Asked whether there would be a GAP analysis now that we bought into these 2 programs and how we would supplement. Stay Tuned for their response.

Here's a link to the article:

Anonymous said...

Just saw the same article. Shocking.

Anonymous said...

Could someone from the middle schools say how it's going? I'd like to hear from both schools since they're doing it so differently. I believe CHMS is testing all three grades everyday, for a total of 5 days. HMS is doing 1 grade a day, for a total of 15 days.

Anonymous said...

Going well at HMS. Kids still getting instructional time each day but a different schedule than usual. Will have to test as CHMS is for the May test, though, because the testing window is shorter. Pros and cons to both. All unfortunate.

A British Tar said...

I looked at today's Hinsdalean and saw the D86 board candidates' questionnaires. Cappetta's and Gershuny's answers appalled me. For their "Single most important step board must take," it said "See Richard Skoda's response," and that the three of them gave a collective answer. While I don't mind them agreeing, but show them individuality. I don't want just one guy making the decisions and the other two just rubber stamping everything he says.

I'm really tempted to go to Skoda's fundraiser and raise some hell with him & the rest of the three stooges, but they're not even worth the $30. Besides, I don't want to take away from the other candidates. Jay Wick (aka Mr. Czerwieck), I look forward to meeting you and hearing what you have to say.

A saying that I once heard that really resonated with me: "We can disagree without being disagreeable." I hope everyone involved with our schools takes that to heart.

Anonymous said...

D181 meet the candidates meeting had about 75-80 people attending.

My impressions were that:
1. Amy McCurry is a nice person. She is friendly and enthusiastic about the district, and would make a great neighbor. However, she is not a critical thinker, and is completely bought into what Dr. Schneider and Dr. White are doing. I do not think she is dishonest. She truly can not comprehend the concerns of people with high expectations, because she does not have them. Does not talk about data, measurement and metrics. Instead she uses the word "believe" frequently.

2. Mr. Turek claimed that results of our elementary students are moving "Up and to the right." I am not sure why he thinks that. I don't think he does either. Mr. Turek was Mr. Turek. What else can be said. Amusingly, Mr. Turek admitted that some students are not being challenged in the classroom the way L4A is currently being implemented. He suggested that the BOE needs to do something about that in the next 2-4 years. I thought, why not today!

3. Leslie Gray was the most articulate in my opinion. Expecting clarity, plans, data, metrics, and results. She emphasized the importance of including parents in the process. Only candidate to get a couple of ovations during her comments.

4. I thought Ms. Burns was excellent and focussed on establishing a strategic plan. A critical thinker, supports measurement, data, and results. I liked her.

5. Mr. Giltner seems thoughtful bright and is a critical thinker. He questioned whether details like L4A should involve the Board. However, he added a smart comment that he did not understand how they can all be in the same class until 8th grade and then suddenly split out to Algebra, Geometry, and Trig/Algebra II in 9th grades.

6. Mr. Czerwiac did not help his case when he talked about threatening to sue the school board. He sounded like a loose cannon. He did talk about data, research and evidence though and I liked that. He supported L4A by saying that we can't just go back to the old way. I thought that was a false choice, that it is not a simple dichotomy. I think he is wrong about L4A but he seems to be open to that possibility and willing to expect results to continue on this path. I had hope that while we disagree he is open to reason and evidence. I respect that. To his credit, he was the only one who directly said that the people deserve better than they are getting from the current BOE. I clapped.

My vote: Gray, Burns, Giltner, Czerwiac

Anonymous said...

Who won the debate? I couldn't go. Details please.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:53's observations of the debate. I really wish that people would stop saying that the learning for all plan replaced the tracking that was taking place with the elementary ACE program. Two very different things. ELementary ACE did sometimes track but impacted only a very small number of very accelerated kids. That was eliminated 3 years ago. Learning For All is something very different and impacts all D181 kids. They are apples and oranges and the impression that we need Learning For All to fill the void left by elementary ACE is just inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that I do not have a dog in this fight, but I was disappointed by the debate turnout. Apparently it was better than last year. I went because I care about the community, even though my youngest is too old to be impacted by the changes.

The limited attendance makes me think that most of the people with kids who are being impacted, do not want to be saved, or don't know what is going on. I was disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Most of the parents in this district have no clue about what is going on in their children's classrooms, they just assume that all is well because of the reputation of the district. In cases where their child is struggling, they just hire tutors. The only reason the debate had as many people as it did is because there were so many D86'ers there. Disappointing indeed.

Anonymous said...

Three words to describe McCurry: tax and spend.

She seems very nice. But very unqualified.

Anonymous said...

7:37 most parents have no idea what's happening. For the most part, the majority of parents who are in the know are those of now 5th graders b/c this was the class that has been impacted up to this point. This was the pilot class who was grade compacted when the students were in 3rd grade. No other grade was affected. There were problems and issues from the beginning; therefore, no other grade level experienced what these kids have experienced over the last 2 1/2 years. The original Learning For All plan was thrown out (grade compacting) b/c it was a complete and utter failure and the now the plan is morphing into an integrated inclusive classroom where all services will be met from gifted to special ed by one teacher with grade compacting beginning in 6th grade for the now 3rd graders. The plan will go into effect and then parents are going to be like WTF!!! Some schools have begun this one classroom, one sized model. Some schools have not. Parents don't realize what is going on, especially parents of young children in the district. And teachers don't know what is happening. They learn things when parents do.

Parent said...

Do Advise - how to handle this situation.
It seems a certain individual from the D181 Administration is bad-mouthing a couple of the BOE candidates. He (so now you know the gender, let the guessing game begin) has been calling parents in certain D181 Elementary School asking them to lobby for him!!! Asking them to do some PR on his behalf so to 'clear his name' and then he starts bashing some of the BOE candidates.
He is turning these elections UGLY!

Anonymous said...

I have heard from several parents who have received phone-calls from a person in the Administration asking them to lobby for him.
But bad mouthing the BOE candidates is just not right.

Anonymous said...

12:09 : the rumors are true. he is bashing two female candidates. let the guessing begin.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so the administrator has to be Dr. Schneider, because I think Dr. White is smarter than to risk being on the wrong side of new Board members.

The BOE candidates have to be Ms. Gray and Ms. Burns because he does not want to be held accountable for specifics and called out on his double talk.

Anonymous said...

A confident and knowledgeable administrator would welcome a more critical eye because he is confident that in what he is doing, and knows that a more detailed assessment will highlight what a good job he is really doing. In contrast, a pretender, will be afraid of accountability and need yes men on the BOE to hide behind while the district falls apart.

I am not too surprised to discover that we have the second type of administrator.

Anonymous said...

12:09 said "I have heard from several parents who have received phone-calls from a person in the Administration asking them to lobby for him. "

What do you mean by "lobby for him?" He isn't running.

Anonymous said...

He has been visiting teachers also to try to convince them he is not the author of LFA.

The Parents said...

6:07: How do you know this? Are you a teacher or have you spoken to a teacher who was called by this administrator?

Anonymous said...

I guess that is why Dr. Schneider hasn't had time to return my phone calls to discuss my son's IEP. He has been too busy running around town and building alliances. Glad we pay him the big bucks. Very professional.

The Parents said...

We have been following the series of comments involving the administrator who is allegedly bad-mouthing some of the BOE candidates and if this is true, it is abhorrent. More than that, however, it is also a violation of Board Policy 2:105(1) that states:

"Prohibited Political Activity
The following precepts govern political activities being conducted by District employees and Board of Education members:
1. No employee shall intentionally perform any “political activity” during any “compensated time,” as those terms are defined herein.
2. No Board member or employee shall intentionally use any District property or resources in connection with any political activity. "

The only questions that need to be answered are:
a) Did this "administrator" do what people are alleging he did? Hopefully if he did this the parents who he actually spoke to will contact Dr. White and the BOE directly, or if questioned by Dr. White, will tell the truth. After all, at the end of the day, how dare any administrator who doesn't live in the district attack ANY of our D181 residents, taxpayers and parents. It certainly says alot about his bravado and arrogance! All parents need to rally around any candidate who is attacked by the employees in this manner.

b) If the answer to a is yes, then what is the BOE or Dr. White going to do about it, because clearly there needs to be a consequence for this misconduct. Frankly, we believe this is a fireable offense.

We know what would happen under the prior administration. Nothing. Will Dr. White demand accountability? He better!

jay_wick said...

Let me clarify why I once gave consideration to blocking the actions of the prior BOE who to spent millions with an "energy performance contractor".

That third-party added nothing to the HMS project and was for all practical intents merely a way to sidestep normal bidding procedures -- Chevron acted as a middleman, hiring subcontractors without forwarding their qualifications on to the BOE for approval. For this they collected a handsome premium on a project that time has proven to be other than high quality.

Further, the portion the of Illinois Code that allows such contracts has been called into question before -- the use of such a the third party allows one big contract that otherwise would be split into smaller components. Instead of one huge number, the individual contracts would have revealed whether or not the work was in-line with industry norms. I believe such "all in one" contracts are designed specifically to avoid the scrutiny of the public. The public was kept in the dark about the type and amount of insulation added (if any), what kind of replacement windows were used, or even the expected lifespan of the primary HVAC systems. Adding insult to injury, Chevron came back to the BOE with change orders/add-ons that demonstrated their incompetence.

Decisions to pour more concrete on the roof almost certainly worsened the conditions that led to ice dams experienced last year. When Chevron notified the BOE that they were going to allow the contractor to "abandon in place" the old heat ducts that previously prevented the fire-sprinklers in the storage area near the gym from freezing there was no architect or HVAC engineering report to say what implications this might have -- hindsight has shown that had these things not happened the "water intrusion event" at HMS would NOT have occurred. That storage area was, in fact, the origin of the damage.

Had I been able to convince the BOE to bid out this work in a conventional manner or at least have the work more closely supervised by qualified a professional, the district would have been millions ahead.

I have some regret choosing not to pursue the matter. Though I instead pushed the BOE to get a slightly longer 'warranty period' it was insufficient. Unfortunately the mild winters we had in the intervening years failed to expose the extent of the incompetent workmanship during the warranty period.

To borrow a quote, this incident "is seared into my memory".

Do these sound like the recollections of a loose cannon? Or a concerned citizen appalled at how easily the BOE can be duped when it fails to listen to those with experience. I have sat through dozens of presentations of charlatans that claim to be able to "slash the costs of running the data center" and nearly all them fail to account for the kind of real-world issues that are unknown to salespeople. The reality is one week these people are hawking "cloud solutions" and the next "solar panels". When a sales person grabs the microphone and starts waltzing around the room like a gameshow host, experienced IT people know it is time to cancel the presentation...
For those that watch the video from last night this style will be evidence from just one candidate. Such a peacock is frankly incapable of true collaboration as their ego demands that they take center stage. Folks that have seen the D86 board well know how such personality-driven style doom a school board to wrong-headed action.

I've diligently asked that decisions be based on hard evidence and not vague promises. Whether it has been in my employment in Information Technology, in front of the D181 BOE or Village meetings or even the often quiet work I have volunteered to other schools / churches / community groups, I have prefered to help move toward a shared goal and not needless obstruction.

Anonymous said...

Jay Wick "Do these sound like the recollections of a loose cannon?"

I understand what your were trying to do. I am just suggesting that in the sound bite world of politics, you might want to avoid mentioning that you were considering suing the BOE unless someone asks you about it.

You have my vote.

Julie Olsen said...

The agenda and attachments are up for Monday's board meeting. The last page of the Learning for All Master Document Appendix is bar chart referencing a meta analysis of data from studies on raising student achievement. A good summary of the meta analysis, including an definition of each of the line items and an explanation what the numbers are actually "measuring" can be found through - scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the link for "Visible Learning Summary by Gerry Miller" for the Word document.

Anonymous said...

I attended the debate Thursday night and felt it was very informational. I appreciate the fact that all of these people have stepped up to the plate. However we need 4 new board members who satisfy the following criteria:

1. Someone who is not intimidated by experts or uses it as an excuse since they are not interested in educational matters.

2. someone who believes in accountability for fiscal spending and program implementation.

3. willing to ask meaningful questions.

4. who is willing to delve into the data being presented.

5.Willing to listen to and take into consideration opposing views, engage the community and come up with some way to restore sanity to this district. Yes taxpayers, all tax payers matter. You can't pick and choose your neighbors. Learn to live with them! Come up with some meaningful surveys that will be used.

6. Lets get the teacher input, from all teachers. Please share it and use it.

7. Someone who understands that parents do want to know how their school is doing compared to other schools in the district and yes we may be interested in mundane matters such as building maintenance if it's going to keep our kids out of school for two weeks. No thanks to the only board member who voted against the split schedule. Please do look out for all schools and kids.

It was my understanding that the board had staggered terms to allow for continuity. We need fresh sets of eyes. Yes they are all nice people but who can contribute and be productive on behalf of the taxpayers most effectively. I felt Burns, Czerwick, Giltner and Gray would be good representatives who will put our students first and are willing to listen to teachers and parents. They also seem like critical thinkers who would be willing to ask the tough questions. Not knowing the history behind the HVAC at HMS, I also felt Mr. Czerwick displayed his commitment to transparency by sharing his previous involvement within the district. Whoever is elected I hope they will move us past this fixation on inclusion and social justice since we just want our children to be well educated and have the opportunities they deserve based on the high taxes we pay. If the goal of the administration is to not provide a rigorous program for all children, they need to start telling realtors in the area and stop the double talk. We are charged a premium for every service just because we live in Hinsdale including the assessments for the same house on a smaller lot that you may find in neighboring suburbs. Why are our home assessments so high if the village is not even comparable to LaGrange or Downers Grove and now the schools are going to focus on social justice and inclusion.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the previous comment: The "meta analysis" conducted by Hattie is essentially worthless because of questionable statistics. Hattie even admits half his statistics are wrong. Google it. There are many other US (Hattie is Australian) researchers who are more credible and whose results are not subject to question. These are the types of scholars that should be referenced in our district, not someone who is cooking the books and is clearly in line with the flawed ideologies of White and Schneider.

Julie Olsen said...

10:16 - would love to see the critiques of Hattie's work - do you have any links?

Anonymous said...

Ms Olsen:
Take some time to Google Hattie research problems and see what hits you get. It's all right there for you to review.

Anonymous said...

Why would Dr. Schneider try to convince people that he is not responsible for LFA? If he doesn't want it, and neither do the parents, then who is keeping it here?

Jill Quinones said...

Whether or not you believe in Hattie's statistics, D181 is playing fast and loose with them. I am sitting here right now with my 2009 copy of Visible Learning as cited in the D181 document and the #1 ranked Influence is Self-Reported Grades with a 1.44. There is nothing called Collective Efficacy by Hattie nor is there any influence above 1.44 so how the D181 chart can show a 1.57 is beyond me! In addition to seemingly making up an influence, they leave out quite a few as well. For example, small group learning is .49 and socioeconomic status is .57. Finally, Hattie also indicates below a .4 is not a no effect - just needs further study in context. What a Spin!

Anonymous said...

Part 1 - Hattie and Dweck Are Better Than Anything D181 Has Ever Provided For Us

Because I have a background and experience in education, I am not sure why people are bashing Dr. Hattie. I think that Mrs. Olsen made a great point. If you read his 2009 Work, "Visible Learning by John Hattie", you will see that it is the result of 15 years of research and synethesises of over 50,000 studies. It presents the largest ever collection of evidence based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. Even if you don't like the results of all of the analyises, you can't throw out 15 years of work based on over 800 meta-analyses. We can't even get our district to clearly and concisely clarify the results of our most recent math pilots, yet decisions have been made about which books to purchase.

I read a summary of this work by Gerry Miller, and I suggest you do, too. It is available on the internet so look it up. The fact that Hattie is from New Zealand is indeed important. Important in that New Zealand ranks in the top 6 nations in reading , mathematics, and science and has a high proportion of excellent teachers who are always seeking to improve and constantly monitor their performances to make a difference to what they do. I have heard that Japan requires their teachers to be supervised for 5 years until they are ever allowed to take control of a classroom themselves. This is in great contrast to what happens in the United States. Private school teachers don't often have any teaching credentials and credentialled teachers can earn Masters and Phds, yet are never consistently supervised or given feedback about the way they teach. Rather, they are only graded on their thesis, the tests they take, and the classes they attend. One or 2 observations a year by a principal is not the same as consistent training, feedback, and improvent.

New Zealand's educational system ranks significantly better than the United States and definitely better than the below average results that Illinois constantly earns in comparison to all of our other states. It is important to study schools and countries that are more successful than we are. Hattie attributes this to the higher quality to the teaching methods, not resources, that those children receive.

His work is supported by Stanford's highly respected Dr. Carol Dweck. In fact she and Hattie disagree with Jo Boaler's ideas. This summary says,: "Carol Dweck does not advocate mixed ability, but, like John Hattie, warns of the dangers of setting on motivation and self -concept. In her research she has found that high achieving girls can suffer badly if they have a Fixed Mindset , due to the blow to their fragile self-esteem caused by suddently finding themselves sttuggling in a top set, whereas previously they have seen themselves as achieving well in relation to their peers."
Challenge is good, but if these children are not consistenly challenged at an appropriate level from a young age, waiting until high school or college to give these children challenging materials is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 - Hattie and Dweck ....

Dr. Schneider needs to take this into consideration when he eliminates grade level learning next year and forces struggling children to suddenly be required to do work that is too hard for them. Now these unprepared children will be able to see that compared to their new peers, they can't keep up. This is a blow that many elementary school and middle school children cannot tolerate. Sure, some children may rise to the occasion, but others will committ suicide or turn to drugs by 9th grade. I am not sure why the district keeps blaming parents and what they call our children's "priveliged lives" for this. Dr. Schneider and LFA, not the other parents and I, eliminated grade level learning. I want my child in grade level. If some parents are in a huge rush to get their child out of middle school math by 5th grade, that's their problem, not my issue. It shouldn't be forced on all children. if they want to stress their children out, fine. But those vocal and perhaps misguided parents have no business forcing all of my children into accelerated math. Carol Dweck points to the importance of regularly promoting movement between sets, or else that studentss will quickly decide that they have been labelled and will not be motivated to improve their performance. So children who are not challenged enough, like "gifted" children, will suffer. And, children who simply cannot keep up with the rigor will lose motivation and give up when they see children wiz through and easily complete their work.

Dr. Hattie points out "What is needed is quality feedback and where that feedback has the greatest effect is when teachers receive more and better feedback about their teaching." In essence, stop testing the kids only, because if you really want kids to learn more, someone has to assess TEACHERS about how they are teaching and what kind of materials they are using. How are they motivating students? Are they explicitly teaching children how and what they need to to do in order to improve. If you study Hattie, look for his pie charts on how important teaching quality is to our children. It far surpasses the importance of contributions from the home, the school, or from the student himself. We need to spend less time on "resources" and "materials" as Mrs. McCurry advocates, and much more time on making sure that are teachers have the necessary skills, materials, and feedback to make sure their students know how to learn. Computers are not the answer - teachers are.

Not a Hater of Hattie

Jill Quinones said...

Dear Not A Hater of Hattie,

I have been trained in Hattie's Visible Learning in the District where I work. I have relied on it in the past. I am not, however, an expert statistician. When expert statisticians indicate there is something wrong with his statistical analysis, and Hattie himself confirms this, then I tend to rely less on the statistics. See

My point in my earlier post was that even if Hattie's Influences (these are what are cited by D181 Dept of Learning in its presentation) are valid, the one at the top of D181's list (Collective Efficacy) is not even on Hattie's list - they made it up. They also did some pickin' and choosin' of which Influences to include and which ones not to depending, of course, on whether they supported their L4A vision.

The only thing worse than bad statistics is someone cherry picking bad statistics.

Anonymous said...

Although I give them credit for writing a nice, descriptive report, the district still appears to be lacking the district data to support anything. We know research can only be applied to similar groups; we know very little research has been done on populations with mostly high-performing students such as ours; we know there is NO research to support differentiated learning on its own to support high achievers; therefore, we must use our own data to support our decisions. Why is that so hard to do? Our children seem to constantly take tests, why can't we see the data that shows us what is or is not working?

It is also interesting to me that in their last slide with Hattie's effect sizes, even if you ignore the Google comments that his statistics are wrong, he has acceleration with the third highest effect size, yet ability grouping for gifted students is near the bottom, not that it does not work but not as well apparently as acceleration. Since the old gifted program used ability grouping with acceleration, how does that fit into these data? What population are they referring to in these studies of acceleration and ability grouping? Are we still going back to high poverty schools and students unrelated to our own, again, making all of this irrelevant for our district?

At some point, we just have to stop collecting all of these pages of information and instead focus on how our students are actually performing. Give us the data from our teachers that they feel they can appropriately challenge each and every child in their inclusive classrooms; give us the data from the parents that show they are happy with our schools and the high taxes they pay to support them; give us the data from all of these assessments our children suffer through that show they are more then meeting standards, but they are exceeding standards as we expect in our community. After all these years of listening to all of this back and forth and constant changing, how much more do we have to take before common sense comes back into the picture.

I believe in supporting the professionals, but not blindly. Why does this seem so obvious but yet seems so hard for all these different highly-paid administrators to do?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Hattie infomation. I espcecially liked this part fromt the Gerry Miller summary:

How to invoke higher expectations seems critical, and this may require more in-school discussion of appropriate benchmarks across grades, and seeing evidence of performance before starting the year (Nuthall, 2005, shows half of all material taught in any class is already known by the students). So much of the early part of the year with a different teacher involves trial and error as teachers find out about proficiencies of students. As we have already seen, teacher-student relationships are crucial (d = 0.72) but they take time to develop. Hattie argues that the greatest single issue facing the further enhancement of students is the need for teachers to have a common perception of progress. When a student moves from one teacher to another, there is no guarantee that he or she will experience increasingly challenging tasks, have a teacher with similar (hopefully high) expectations of progress up the curricula, or work with a teacher who will grow the student from where he or she is, as opposed to where the teacher believes he or she should be at the start of the year.
To have high expectations and to share a common conception of progress requires teachers to be concerned about the nature of their relationships with their students, as the power of these is critical for learning to occur. Russell Bishop moves around classes in New Zealand, asking students “Does your teacher like you?” He found that most white students said yes, but many ethnic minority students said no. The powerful effect of this work is that, after seeing these results, the teachers are quick to change their practices.
Developing a warmer socio-emotional climate in the classroom, fostering effort and thus engagement for all students, requires teachers to enter the classroom with certain conceptions about progress, relationships and students. It requires them to believe that their role is that of a change agent – that all students can learn and progress, that achievement for all is changeable and not fixed, and that demonstrating to all students that they care about their learning is both powerful and effective.

Anonymous said...

Back to the debate, I just watched it on YouTube and encourage everyone who reads this blog and who couldn't make it last week to watch all of it. Here's my take away:

Leslie was fabulous and the most knowledgeable and sympathetic to the parents in the district. She was the only one who discussed at length the impending state budget cuts.

John was great. I didn't think he sounded like a loose cannon as someone had mentioned above. Very knowledgable about the issues and committed to serving the community.

Rich also seemed very well informed and confident. I loved his point about how D181 wants all students to be in the same math level, but then somehow branch into three (or four) levels when they get to high school.

Jennifer did very well, and her main contribution was stressing the importance of a strategic plan so the board and administration are not all over the place like they are now. She is very well versed on the issues.

Marty seemed very insecure and didn't back up any of his claims about the fabulous direction the district is heading in.

And Amy--if I had been blindfolded, I would have thought it was Dawn. Complete gibberish.

Anonymous said...

At the debate Marty said our advanced learners are waiting to learn - and we need to fix that in the next two to four years!!!!!! So is he going to support that "seminole" document on Monday and give pats on the back? After all it does not address the needs of advanced learners. In 2-4 years we will have lost a whole generation and d86 will pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Quinones,

You are not the first to notice the questionable methods that our current administration uses to support its experimental theories. I completley agree with you in that they make things up. To the trained eye, their reports bear a striking lack of support. It's truly a disgrace. Not only are their recommendations not best practices, their experimental theories are harmful. This is not only due to Dr. Schneiders lack of knowledge in curriculum, but in my opinion, is also tied to his lack of integrity.

Since the time of Dr. Stutz, the adminstration has been getting away with pretending that they knew what they are talking about. Dr. Schneider probably walked into a terrible situation to begin with. But the fact that he still doesn't look to real data and evidence to support what he is forcing our schools to buy into is taking D181 into an even worse position. Because the administration hasn't been held to high standards for years, the administration knows that no one on the BOE will ever make them. What is very frightening is that instead of delving deeper into their problems and attempting to solve them, they choose to extend themselves into new arenas of the unknown. For example, technology with Ian Jukes and questionable new math curricula which I believe you pointed out, are not recommmended by Ed Week at all.

I think that its safe to assume that you and I both agree that the research methods that D181 uses are lacking in integrity and data. They cite to many respectable sources and so many different theories, but few on the board ever bother to check them. If they ever did check sources , though, they would wonder why specific page numbers are never noted, or which specific parts of the author's beliefs they subscribe to. When the questionable theories come into play, no one generally points it out. And when someone does point out inconsistencies, the other board members usually become insensed at what they call disrespectful behavior. Interesting that the shoddy reports and work products that the administration produces week after week is never pointed out as being disrespectful to our community.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading the Learning for All document posted on Board Docs this morning. I'm constantly stunned at what the administration puts out although I probably shouldn't be after 3 years of this nonsense.

In the same document, Kurt Schneider and crew say that the Learning for All Plan is a process and it is also a collection of effective strategies. How can a plan be a process? How can a plan be a collection of strategies?

Another failing grade for Dr. White, Dr. Schneider, Dawn Benaitis, and Sean Walsh!

Anonymous said...

this makes no sense. why is the board allowing the administration to thumb their nose at them again? they asked for a clear plan in writing. the exact roadmap of where d181 was going and how they were going to take our children there. but now, they decided to ignore parents' wishes again, and tell us that they are the ones driving the bus so they can take our children wherever they want. they said they were going to a better place, but decided to take a detour and camp out until their next revelation comes to them. meanwhile our kids are stitting on their bus (that we pay for) waiting for some direction.

a plan cannot be a process. a plan that a governmental entity creates, supposedly for the benefit of our children, should noty constantly change - especially when it is supposed to be in writing. we were told we'd get a map. all we are getting is the finger.

Stop the Bus