Our New Strategic Plan – #engage109

“If you want extraordinary results you must put in extraordinary effort.”
– Cory Booker

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Board of Education of the Deerfield (IL) Public Schools District 109 approved the 2017 Strategic Plan! This new plan is the outgrowth of focus groups, interviews, surveys, studies, analysis, and leadership. More than 1700 voices have been heard as part of this process.

We have a Portrait of a Graduate, a mission, vision, guiding principles, goals and objectives.

This is the District’s Guiding Document! All actions, plans, initiatives, plans, programs and reviews will be aligned with and measured against this plan and its components.

 

From my letter to the community in the Plan:

On behalf of the Board of Education, I am proud to present the 2017 Strategic Plan. We developed this plan with input from more than 1,700 people in our community through interviews, focus groups, surveys, data analysis and student performance.

Those 1,700 people included representatives from the following stakeholder groups: teachers, parents, students, support staff, community members, business leaders, government leaders, administrators and members of the Board of Education.  The plan lays out the mission, vision, portrait of a graduate, guiding principles goals and objectives. This plan will guide our work on behalf of the children we serve. The three broad goals to which the objectives are aligned clearly share that which we value: Limitless learning experiences for ALL children.

The 2017-18 school year will mark the first year of implementation of this plan.  I look forward to working with our entire community as we embark on shaping the future of education in the Deerfield Public Schools. Thank you for your continued support as we continue to Engage, Inspire, Empower our students, each other, and our entire community.

We take the concept of limitless learning experiences for ALL children very seriously. We do believe that the current, 19th Century structures serve many of our students and families (it’s familiar and it’s a system that is not completely broken). But, there are more and more students for whom the current system simply does not work. There are more and more students for whom the current structures block their growth and potential. Just because the systems have worked for more than a century does not believe we have to continue them blindly with no options.

This current Strategic Plan allows us to move beyond the 19th Century structures. We can move beyond our 20th Century accomplishments and struggles. We can move forward in this current 21st Century with vision, mission, “the end in mind” and options!

The three goals form the umbrella of the driving forces toward our future – a future where we design, create, implement, and evaluate Limitless learning experiences for ALL children.

Tied to these goals we have six objectives each for a total of eighteen objectives. The objectives were vetted by members of the Board of Education, our research partners ECRA Group, and the Leadership Team (assistant superintendents, principals, associate/assistant principals, executive directors, directors coordinators, etc).

Tied to these eighteen objectives we have formulated eighteen action plans! We’ll tie our work to this plan. We’ll align our work to these objectives. We’ll report more throughout the next few years. In three years we’ll review the entire plan to see what is still relevant. Annually we’ll report on progress, planning, and evaluation. This will be a LIVE plan – not a plan that sits on a binder.

 

 

 

Addressing Equity -Opportunity- Acceleration for All #Engage109

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill
 

In the Deerfield Public Schools, District 109, we have decided to make a change to mathematics program delivery models starting in

ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER

the 2017-18 school year in the 6th grade. We are going to eliminate “regular math” and offer “accelerated math” for all.

We engaged in a comprehensive review of our own student performance (status, growth, standardized test results) data and decision making processes. We also consulted with our research analytics partners, the ECRA team, as well as board members, we are confident that the right steps moving forward involve changing the math delivery model in 6th grade. We also made this decision after speaking with district and building administrators and a comprehensive review of research and data.

This equitable math curriculum delivery model change is based upon a substantial body of educational research, two years of our student performance data analyzed by professional psychometricians, and our unified, ongoing desire to create and sustain the most effective and proven structures for student learning possible. 
This decision is also supported by emerging themes of needed differentiation stemming from the input and analysis of the strategic plan information (from more than 1700 people’s input).
  • Strategic Planning Update: Board of Education President Nick Begley commended his fellow Board members and the administrators for a productive strategic planning meeting on Saturday, January 21. Dr. Lubelfeld reported that the District gathered input from more than 1,700 people as part of the process. He explained that the strategic planning process is an opportunity for stakeholders provide guidance to the Board to set the path of the District. The District 109 Board reviewed all the input and worked with ECRA in a half-day workshop to develop a draft plan that  includes the mission, vision, portrait of a graduate, guiding principles, goals and objectives. The administrative team will meet on January 31 to review the objective statements as they begin to plan the action plans to meet the objectives and goals. At the February 13 Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board and administrative team will meet to bring together their work. The final plan will be presented to the Board for action at the March 20, 2017 meeting.

 

As district and building and community leaders,we feel it’s incumbent upon us to design instructional structures that meet the needs of all children and provide equitable educational opportunities for all students. The current delivery model is providing barriers to access for some students, denying them the best opportunity to successfully master grade level standards.
The fact that less than 27% of 6th grade students enrolled in regular math for the past two years met minimum standards is simply unacceptable. We are not assigning blame to any teachers, of course, yet we are also not willing to make excuses for these results or overlook these results.
In our local situation, we discovered that sixty two students were enrolled in regular math (over the past few years) yet they had similar historical achievement levels to 32 students in accelerated math.  The 32 students in accelerated math grew at higher rates than the 62 students in regular math.
 
The issues surrounding how to best meet the needs of students is part of a broader look at education in general. Over the years, most recently through John Hattie’s meta-analysis of school studies, researchers have “proven”/found” that various instructional methods and organizational approaches have differing effects on student learning. Hattie’s findings relating to ability-based grouping are simply not encouraging.
 
In considering changing the model of 6th grade math offerings, members of the administration have reviewed and studied an abundance of research related to tracking, ability grouping, and instruction. In addition, the partnership with ECRA Group has allowed us to review and analyze multiple points of local student performance data over the past few years in each “program.”
 
Sharing one of many videos about ability grouping – causing us to pause, think, and “unlearn” for children – ALL children!

Our 6th grade math model moving forward calls for four sections of accelerated math on each middle school team with TAP (our gifted ed and high achieving track) still remaining separate. We understand that this will be a change for our current sixth grade math teachers.
However, it is worth noting what will not change: 6th grade teachers will move from teaching 4 sections of 6th grade math to 4 sections of 6th grade math with the curriculum map standards (as the “floor” for all students, but the “ceiling” for none) remaining identical to what they are now. The expectation for differentiation is not new, it’s done every day in every K-5 classroom across the district, and it has been happening in our middle school classrooms as well for decades.
 
We believe children must be allowed to show competence and mastery of their grade level standards, and when they do, the teacher must allow them to move beyond in an effort to remove the limits on our students.
 
Finally, this entire change process directly relates to the PLC (professional learning communities) work in which we have been involved. There are four basic questions we all must continuously ask and reflect upon every day:
 
  1. What do we expect our children to know and be able to do? (As mentioned before, with this change the answer will be the same: the 6th grade CCSS for mathematics will be the floor for all students and the ceiling for none).
  2. How will we know if they learned it? (Again, largely nothing will change; we will continue to use MAP, PARCC, DCA, and ongoing daily formative assessment data to monitor our results)
  3. How will we respond when some children do not learn? (Our answer to this question, based on all available data the past two years, is the “why” of this whole movement. This is something we’ve examined extensively and–having done so–determined we must now respond systemically; something must change to determine if we can get better results moving forward)
  4. How will we respond when some students already know/can do? (We want to spend more time on answering this question next year with the acceleration for all model, in which we insist on 6th standards as floor for all, yet the ceiling for none. How can we individualize/personalize 6th grade math instruction to make sure the ceiling is limitless for kids)
 

Internally we shared some of the following background information and resource collection:

There has been a lot of discussion, thinking, review and reflection about the administration’s goal to reduce tracking at the sixth grade math level next year. Our aim is to raise expectations and remove limits to student growth by making all or just about all math (except TAP/gifted) accelerated. Our “acceleration for all” philosophy is driven by research, best practices, literature, experience, professional judgement, resources available to us, and the performance on the achievement test of children in the “regular” class for the past two years. One hypothesis for the poor performance is the ill effects of ability grouping/tracking as has been in place. In addition, the past few years offers us incredible gains and growth – never before seen or experienced in the district. Our student performance K-5 is impacting needed changes in models at grades 6-8.

Please see these videos for perspectives from experts on tracking and ability grouping:

This is a complex and multifaceted issue that tracking alone does not explain. We believe that raising expectations for all students in the current “regular track” will improve student performance.


Additional literature/research information on this well researched topic:

According to Mary Fletcher, there are many benefits to expect when instructional staff are conversant with and dedicated to differentiated instruction and detracking:

  • Differentiation allows more students to feel invested in the lesson, thereby decreasing behavioral problems. Students who previously opted to be viewed as “bad” rather than “stupid” will have their learning needs met and other talents explored, allowing them to drop the “bad” act and become instead a valuable member of the class.

  • Students who might have been considered less intelligent because they learn in a nontraditional way become invaluable contributors to the heterogeneous classroom.

  • Differentiated instruction encourages flexibility. Teachers thus become adept at adapting lessons to fulfill each student’s individual needs.

  • Detracking removes the limits that come with rigid thinking about how learning should and does occur. Fair does not always mean “the same.” For example, allowing a student who struggles with the physical act of writing to type his notes can benefit that student and the rest of the class. Not only does the student get access to the material, but the entire class has a reliable set of notes that can be used for those who were absent. This student now becomes an expert—and essential—note-taker who takes pride in his responsibility and sees himself as a member of the class.

Eliminate the Lowest Track First

There is little doubt that tracking does the most harm to students who are consigned to the lowest track. According to the National Research Council (NRC), low-track classes have an especially deleterious effect on learning, since such classes are “typically characterized by an exclusive focus on basic skills, low expectations, and the least qualified teachers” (Heubert & Hauser, 1999, p. 282).

The preponderance of research regarding low-track classes was so overwhelmingly negative that the NRC concluded that students should not be educated in low-track classes as they are currently designed (Heubert & Hauser, 1999). It makes sense, therefore, to begin by eliminating the classes that do the most harm to students.

Why Ability Grouping Doesn’t Work by Shirley Clarke

Detracking for Excellence and Equity compilation of research findings from several sources

Moving Beyond Tracking by Wm Mathis

From: The Mathematics of Hope: Moving from Performance to Learning in Mathematics Classrooms– Jo Boaler:

Other changes need to happen as well. Mathematics teachers need to stop frequent, timed testing; replace grades with diagnostic feedback (Black et al. 2002; Boaler & Foster 2014); and deemphasize speed, so that the students who think slowly and deeply are not led to believe they are not capable (Boaler, 2014). Perhaps most significantly and most radically, schools should also remove fixed student groupings that transmit fixed mindset messages and replace them with flexible groupings that recognize that students have different strengths at different times (Boaler 2009; Boaler & Foster 2014).

Keeping Track: The Policy and Practice of Curriculum Inequality (Oakes)

Current DPS 109 5th Grade Data to review for Placement Discussions

Potential Resources for teachers:

Jo Boaler’s Online course for Teachers

Why Do Americans Stink at Math by Elizabeth Green

The American Math Crisis– Forthcoming Math Documentary

The Stereotypes that Distort How Americans Teach and Learn Math by Jo Boaler

How Math Should Be Taught – Jo Boaler

When You Believe In Your Students They Do Better -Jo Boaler


As always we welcome comments, thoughts, challenges, examples, etc!

HR Recruitment Video – #Engage109

“Employees are your most valuable assets. They are the heart and guts of a company.”
– Carlos Ghosn

ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER

It is recruiting season in education right now! In the Deerfield Public Schools, District 109, we’re proud of the rich and diverse history of our century and a half legacy of public, community education. We take great pride in showcasing the work of our students, staff, leadership team, board of education, and community.

Our research based, multi step selection process is among the most rigorous in the industry!

If you are looking for a place to work, we’re among the top rated employers – at last count, 94% of our nearly 500 employees indicated we are a great place to work. It takes relationships, trust, cooperation, communication, strong culture, and pride.

Take a few minutes to check out one of our award winning videos sharing what it is that we value in our public school system. If you are interested in employment, visit the Department of Human Resources Web Pages.

 

 

 

Celebrating Education – #AEW2016 – American Education Week

“I swing big, with everything I’ve got, I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.”
– Babe Ruth

Celebrating American Education Week!

November 14-18, 2016

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What is American Education Week?

American Education Week—November 14-18, 2016—will present all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.

2016’s theme, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility,” was reflected in special observances each day of the 2016 weeklong celebration:

  • Monday, November 14, 2016: Kickoff Day
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016: Parents Day
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016: Education Support Professionals Day
  • Thursday, November 17, 2016: Educator for a Day
  • Friday, November 18, 2016: Substitute Educators Day

Read more about the history of American Education Week.


 

In the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 we like to honor, celebrate, and encourage all members of the district, teachers, support staff, administrators, board members, students, parents, business partners, etc. It’s nice to have formal days/weeks like the American Education Week because we also get an additional excuse to say Thank you!

ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER
ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER

We are proud to “brand” and “tell our stories” every day through multiple media sources including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN; we are especially proud to share via the district hashtag: #Engage109 The stories of excellence are found in the classrooms, training rooms, boar rooms, and all over our community.

We have been in “business” since 1847 and we have no plans to stop providing world class educational opportunities for all children. Our award winning schools, teachers, administrators, learning spaces, and district continue to inspire us to work harder, lead stronger, and excel in every way possible.

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This week we will give each and every employee a “high five” as a thank you and as our continued gratitude and appreciation for the selfless, innovative, and engaging work they provide for children every day! Horace Mann is credited with stating:

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.

In our school system we are focused on meeting the needs of all children and making certain that all children deserve and are capable of an education that is meaningful, engaging, relevant, and purposeful.

Please join us in saying THANK YOU to our educators during

American Education Week.

Engage, Inspire, Empower

Also this week:

From a good friend and co-worker:

“Ironically, while we celebrate another year of life for [my husband], the world prepares to celebrate World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which will take place next week on November 17th. In celebration of [his] inspiring battle with cancer, please consider supporting an organization that funds research for Pancreatic Cancer. Contributions from these organizations played a major role in funding research that led to [his] treatment. Imagine a day when pancreatic cancer is detected early enough that survival rates improve dramatically.” 

Celebration of National Blue Ribbon Awards-#Engage109

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
– Abraham Lincoln

blueribbonlogo

Today the United States Secretary of Education announced the award winning schools in the National Blue Ribbon award program. I am beyond proud of Alan B. Shepard Middle School and Walden Elementary School in Deerfield Public Schools District 109 for achieving this high honor!

In his weekly newsletter, Dr. Tony Smith, the Illinois State Superintendent listed the 16 Illinois schools who won – of the 329 schools in the United States, 16 hail from our state, 10 from our county and 2 from our district. It imagestruly takes a village and we are so proud of the efforts of the school communities, parents, business members, students, support staff, teachers, administrators and our Board of Education!

state-supt

Please take a few minutes to listen to Secretary King make the announcement in the video clip. We are grateful to him for his acknowledgement of all of the educational excellence, as well as his special shout out to the Walden School Girls/STEM Lunch N Learn program that emerged from the Superintendent’s Task Force on Middle Level Education and was organized and run by parents at Walden!

We are quite fortunate in Deerfield (most of Riverwoods and some of Highland Park, IL) to have parents and community members who value education. We are quite fortunate to have powerful partnerships with the police, fire, village, public works, park district, library, township, and all local governments. We are quite proud of the pride and engagement in our schools from our award winning teaching staff, amazing administrators, and visionary members of the Board of Education.

While the awards are bestowed upon two of our schools, the celebration and credit and excitement belongs to the entire school district community.

ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER
ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER