Board Briefs: Winter 2019 Curriculum Workshop

The District 58 Board of Education held a special meeting/curriculum workshop on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. View the agenda and presentation links. Listen to meeting audio here. The meeting included these highlights:

Henry Puffer Principal Appointment

The Board of Education approved the appointment of Britta Waszak to the Henry Puffer School principal position. Waszak will begin work in July 2019 and will replace current Henry Puffer Principal Todd McDaniel, who retires in June.

Curriculum Workshop Presentation and Discussion

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul led a curriculum presentation on several topics including:

Curriculum Council Update: District 58 formed the Curriculum Council in fall 2018, as guided by the Strategic Plan. This Council comprises teachers, administrators and parents who work toward achieving the District’s strategic goals related to curriculum, rigor, alignment and commitment. The Council recommended a three-year timeline that would task District 58 with pursuing new science curriculum resources in fall 2019, new math curriculum resources in fall 2020, and new social studies curriculum resources in fall 2021, pending curriculum committee work. The Council emphasized that additional professional learning time and curriculum personnel will be necessary to roll out the new resources with fidelity.

Curriculum Committee Update: Sisul provided the Board an update regarding the District’s many curriculum committees. Each committee comprises teachers and administrators who work collaboratively to enhance their subject’s curriculum. Key updates shared include:

  • Increased elementary art: In fall 2018, District 58 increased art instruction for students in grades 1-2 from bi-weekly to weekly. In fall 2019, all grade K-6 students will participate in weekly 30-minute art lessons. This will amount to a six-hour increase in art instruction for students in grades 3-6 and kindergarten.
  • New middle school exploratories: The Middle School Exploratory Committee worked for two years to review existing–and develop new–exploratory courses, using student and staff input, as well as District 99 partnerships. These updated and new courses will be offered beginning in fall 2019. Courses include: Connections, Art, Music, and Family & Consumer Science for seventh graders; and Art, Foreign Language Exploratory, Family & Consumer Science, and STEAM Studio for eighth graders. Additionally, all eighth graders will have the option of participating in a full-year, high school-level foreign language class. This course is accelerated and very challenging, and middle school principals will communicate class expectations in advance to help parents decide whether to enroll their child in this class.

See slides 5-17 of the Curriculum Workshop presentation for updates regarding all District 58 curriculum committees.

District 58 Winter MAP Data: Sisul presented the winter Measures of Academic Progress  (MAP) assessment results. Students take MAP three times per year, and results are used to better understand individual student achievement and growth, as well as to enhance and support learning. District 58 students continue to excel on this assessment when benchmarked against students nationwide (“achievement percentile”); however, when compared to winter 2018 results (which were notably some of the highest in recent history), some grade levels showed minimal improvements or declines. Sisul noted that students took the winter MAP assessment a month earlier than usual this year (December instead of January), and the slightly lower-than-expected scores could be attributed to this shift.

See slides 18-37 of the Curriculum Workshop presentation for winter MAP assessment details.

Illinois Assessment of Readiness Update: District 58 will administer the Illinois Assessment of Readiness in April. While this assessment replaces the PARCC test, it will still use PARCC questions. The District will send a parent communication regarding this assessment next week.

See slides 38-39 of the Curriculum Workshop presentation for Illinois Assessment of Readiness information.

Professional Learning in District 58: Sisul, along with Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis, shared updates regarding the District’s professional learning plan for 2019-20. Highlights include:

  • District 58 teachers and committee/council members said increased professional learning time is essential in order to implement new curriculum resources, improve professional practices, and provide high-quality student learning experiences.
  • The Professional Learning Council and District administration conducted a thorough review of professional learning models, including discussions with 14 local elementary districts regarding professional learning successes and challenges.
  • After evaluating this diligent research, the District proposes initiating a weekly 2 p.m. student dismissal on Mondays, which would provide 90 minutes weekly for professional learning for all grade K-8 certified staff. A preschool professional learning model is under development. If approved, this model will begin in fall 2019.
  • The District held discussions with all classroom teachers and specialists to gain their feedback regarding this model and make improvements. Central administrators, teacher’s union leaders and two Board members also discussed this model in a meeting.
  • The District has contacted all known local childcare providers regarding the shift. All providers said they can accommodate a 2 p.m. Monday release.
  • The District reviewed curriculum programming and will ensure that all students in grades K-6 will receive consistent instructional time in music, art, physical education and library, despite the Monday early release.
  • This shift will decrease the District’s substitute usage, providing students more instructional time with their classroom teacher and saving the District at least $13,000 in substitute costs.
  • To achieve this new model without decreasing instructional time, the District recommends a 10-minute increase to the elementary school day.  A potential increase to the middle school day is being reviewed by a team of middle school teachers and administrators.
  • Professional learning time will have designated district-directed, building-directed and teacher-directed sessions. The District is setting measurable goals for each professional learning session and will review the outcome impacts afterward.
  • This spring, the District will communicate with parents regarding this shift and offer a parent survey regarding how the District can support parents during this transition.
  • The District will ask staff and parents to provide continuous feedback throughout this process to ensure it continues to be the best professional learning model. The District will also provide regular reports to the Board of Education.

View slides 40-56 of the Curriculum Workshop presentation for more information.

Other Items

  • The Board offered a 30-minute extended reception of visitors, during which time the community and Board engaged in a two-way dialogue. During this reception, two teachers spoke in favor of the professional learning model. In addition, four parents spoke on varied topics, including: professional learning model considerations, art curriculum, student assessment frequency and English-language arts curriculum.
  • Before the Curriculum Workshop began, the Board held a Staff Meet & Greet.

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.: Superintendent Search Workshop (Closed Session) at the ASC
  • Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m.: Superintendent Interviews (Closed Session) at the ASC
  • Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m.: Superintendent Interviews (Closed Session) at the ASC
  • Monday, March 11 at 6:15 p.m.: Board/Community Meet & Greet at Downers Grove Village Hall
  • Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Downers Grove Village Hall

District 58 Board of Education members are: Doug Purcell, president; Elizabeth Sigale, vice president; Kirat Doshi, Greg Harris, Darren Hughes, John Miller and Jill Samonte, with Dr. Kari Cremascoli, superintendent; and Melissa Jerves, board secretary.