District 69 officials cite student progress in developing Madison restructuring plan
Nina Newman, a second-grader at Madison School in Skokie, picks up a Super Hawk award which recognizes behavior and academic achievements at the school on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. The awards are given out a couple times each year to five students in each cl
Names in the Game
Noteworthy efforts: Cardenas will be the only Niles West runner competing with Atwal at the sectional after the Wolves finished ninth as a team at the Loyola Regional. Cardenas, a senior, secured the fifth and final individual berth in the sectional by finishing 39th (16 minutes, 37 seconds) at Harms Woods on Saturday.
Updated: November 1, 2012 2:12PM
SKOKIE — Officials in Skokie-Morton Grove Elementary School District 69 say they have made progress in complying with federal education standards at Madison School after failing to meet the required benchmarks for five years.
Superintendent Quintin Shepherd said the Illinois State Board of Education has given the district a list of changes that should be considered as part of a restructuring plan.
Shepherd said the district has already implemented some of those changes. He also noted improving student scores on standardized tests the past two years, something he expects the state to take into account in assessing the district’s efforts.
Shepherd noted at a recent school board meeting that theoretically, the state could operate the school if it fails to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act for two more years.
“It sounds ominous,” he said. “There is a possibility in two years a state takeover could potentially happen.”
Shepherd noted, however, that the act in its most recent form expired a year ago and has not been renewed by Congress. And all but 16 districts in the state have gotten waivers from some of its requirements.
That’s because the annual yearly progress mandate requires that by 2014, 100 percent of students meet or exceed standards, something school officials in many districts have said is not possible.
Shepherd, who joined District 69 about three years ago, said district test scores began to decline five years ago, “at the same time AYP was going up. We got tagged for missing AYP early.”
The scores of students at Madison on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test declined from 2007 through 2010 at all three district schools, though the scores at Madison were the lowest.
In reading, for example, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards in 2007 was close to 80 percent. By 2010 that had dropped to about 45 percent.
Since his arrival, though, Shepherd has made some changes, particularly at Madison where a new principal was appointed and about 10 percent of the staff was replaced.Student achievement is honored with Super Hawk awards, given out a couple times a year to students who are responsible, respectful and safe, and who made achievements in reading, writing or math.
Shepherd has also worked to turn around district finances, which were running a deficit despite a recent tax increase. Those are among the measures included in the list of possible changes recommended by the sate.
Shepherd said he is developing a restructuring plan as required by the State Board of Education that will note the steps the district already has taken and the improving student performance.
In 2012, for example, the percentage of Madison students meeting or exceeding state standards was 79 percent, up from 65 percent two years earlier.
The composite score for students in District 69 meeting or exceeding state standards in all subjects was 81.1 percent, Shepherd said.
Also this year, he said, the district for the first time made the AYP required for students classified as English Language Learners, those who come in with limited English.
“That’s amazing,” Shepherd said. “We’ve done phenomenally well and are close to making the bar.”
Shepherd said he plans to present a restructuring plan to the school board for review this month and approval in December.
Any further changes that need to be made, he said, will be in place by next school year.
“Under stress we typically respond with a fight or flight response. A flight response is wrong,” he said.
“We don’t want teachers leaving. We don’t want parents pulling their kids out. I think what we have to do is fight.
“I think our fight needs to be for the kids,” he added. “We need to fight together.”