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2016 Highlights

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...from the September 13, 2016 Board of Education Meeting


American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Academic Team

For the sixth year in a row, York Community High School’s Boys Volleyball Team has been honored as an All-American Academic team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The AVCA honors teams with at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. The York Varsity team, which maintained a 3.81 cumulative GPA during the 2015-2016 school year, is one of only 23 boys teams in the nation to receive the award and only one of seven in Illinois to be so honored.

Congratulations are extended to coach Ken Dowdy and assistant coaches Brian Fisher and Taylor Stipe, as well as team captains Gordon Johnson, Bobby Kissinger and Jacob Wendell, along with team members Daniel Bolivar, Rio Diaz, John Goehl, Evan Haug, Colin Hobin, Zachary Hughart, Sam Jordan-Wood, Dylan Kalchik, Andrew Lewand, Michael Pennel, Jake Privett and Andrew Weber for their outstanding performance during the 2015 season.

Student Achievement – York High School


Director of Research and Assessment, Charles Sprandel, reported on ACT data over the past five years. The ACT average composite score for the Class of 2016 set a new record high at 24.7, a .5 jump from the previous year. “This is a significant jump,” said Mr. Sprandel. About half of York students retake the ACT. Meanwhile, Illinois average composite scores have remained relatively flat.

Newsweek annually releases its ranking of the top 500 public high schools. For 2016, York is #186 on the Top High Schools List; York is #188 on the Beating the Odds List (which incorporates low income data). Newsweek’s metrics are a blend of data. Ranking is based on six measurements that it weighted to achieve a “college readiness index.” The rankings show how well high schools prepare students for college. Those measurements and their weight are:

  • Holding power: 10 percent (comparison of freshmen to senior enrollment of a class)
  • Ratio of counselor/full-time equivalent to student enrollment: 10 percent
  • Weighted SAT/ACT: 17.5 percent
  • Weighted AP/IB/dual enrollment composite: 17.5 percent
  • Graduation rate: 20 percent
  • College enrollment rate: 25 percent

To access the complete methodology used for this ranking, click here.

“One of the issues with these rankings is the data they pull; the data used for the initial screening in this process is from 2012-13, for example. The databases from which data is harvested have had issues with reliability in the past. So you have to take these rankings with a grain of salt, because different entities use different measures, but it’s certainly a positive outside confirmation of some of the more in-depth measures that we look at and reaches a much broader audience,” said Mr. Sprandel.


Student Achievement Objectives


Superintendent Dr. Dave Moyer reviewed the Rigor/Relevance Framework, a tool developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education to examine curriculum, instruction and assessment. This concept was first presented to the Board at its August 9, 2016 meeting.


“We want to set the context and make the connections between this framework and our student achievement objectives, as well as all of the work we are doing to organize our instructional priorities, so that people can see how this work is coming to life. We want to continue to bring these concepts together, as opposed to viewing them in isolation,” he said. “You’re going to be hearing more about it over time. We’re using this practically to create meaning to our work.”


The Rigor/Relevance Framework was created along the two dimensions of higher standards and student achievement. The four knowledge quadrants are Acquisition (A), Application (B), Assimilation (C) and Adaptation (D). This can be used in the development of both effective instruction and assessment. In addition, teachers can use it to monitor their own progress in adding rigor and relevance to their instruction and to select appropriate instructional strategies for differentiating instruction and facilitating higher achievement goals.


“If you look in the Community Compact that we developed last year, you will see that we chose this definition of rigor (which appears in the lower right quadrant – B): applying information to real-world, unpredictable situations. We did this to create a common understanding and to move away from the concept that rigor means piling more homework on kids or making tests impossibly hard. We wanted to get to a more sophisticated understanding of what rigor actually means,” said Dr. Moyer.


“Quadrant A is the lowest level of thinking skills. What school typically do when they try to increase rigor is end up in quadrant C, which is limited to the school or content area setting. The idea of quadrants B and D is to get future ready, to get to college and career ready and that’s why this framework has direct connections to the work we’re doing with our student achievement objectives. One thing that stuck out at me in quadrant D – the highest level of rigor – is the phrase ‘the skill to create solutions.’ We’re living in a world where the creation of knowledge is really critical. (Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators)


“One of the easiest and quickest ways to get more rigor reflected in classroom instruction is the verbs teachers use in their learning targets. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s an important way to get them to start to design instruction, assessment and learning activities in a manner that reflects higher levels of rigor. You could call this verb list a cheat sheet. It’s a tool for pushing rigor into quadrants B and D.”


Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, Mary Baum, reported on the August Institute Days, the launch of Instructional Coaching and Instructional Rounds. Staff participated in two days of professional learning as they prepared for the start of the school year.


This work included developing an understanding of the rigor and relevance framework that forms the basis of our work on student engagement. At the early childhood and high school level, teachers engaged in the development of high quality professional learning communities and the development of a collaborative culture. At the elementary level, extensive time was devoted to the implementation of the new ELA curriculum. District 205 middle schools had focused time for departments and a series of breakout sessions that allowed teachers to choose content that aligned with their professional goals and needs. Building-based Institute Days continued the emphasis on student engagement and the rigor and relevance framework through collaborative team activities and planning.


Work with the instructional coaches began with an intensive two-day academy. Defining the role of instructional coaches, understanding the roles in which they will frame their work, and establishing their partnership with their building principal were the overarching themes.


Additionally, principals and coaches planned their introduction of the coaches to staff using a provided template in order to ensure a consistent message across all schools.


Elementary coaches have been instrumental in supporting the implementation of the English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. Classroom teachers have been provided with release time in order to dive more deeply into the instructional shifts necessary to implement the new curriculum. The early childhood, middle school and high school coaches have focused their early work on redefining their work with teachers in new roles and working with teams of teachers.


Instructional rounds conducted by principals and coordinators add another layer to the focused work on the student achievement objectives. Modeled after medical rounds, this process will allow our principals to gather the observations and insights from their colleagues on the current state of their school and then plan for growth and improvement.


“For example, our first series of rounds will have a narrow focus on the use of learning targets. Our middle and high school principals will work in a collaborative group to conduct rounds in each of their buildings,” said Ms. Baum. “They will walk through each classroom in a building and collect data on the use of learning targets. They will then analyze the data collaboratively and develop action plans to improve and deepen the use of learning targets by teachers. The data collected by all of the groups will also be analyzed by the Department of Learning and Teaching to inform our planning for professional learning. Future series of rounds will be larger in scope to examine rigor and student engagement.”


Principal Susan Kondrat and Instructional Coach Bridget McDonald spoke about the enthusiasm with which instructional coaching has been received at the Madison Early Childhood Education Center. It was noted that, as Ms. McDonald is still teaching half time, she gets to practice what she preaches.


Principal Kondrat reported that Institute Days were spent in collaborative team work. The staff worked on setting goals that are related to the three targets of engagement, quality self-assessment and rigor of the curriculum.


Ms. McDonald then met with each of the teachers individually; looked at the Danielson framework; developed professional goals aligned with the District goals; developed action plans and worked on deciding how to measure progress.


Even though she has taught at Madison for ten years, Ms. McDonald was most worried about being accepted by her colleagues. “We’re learning together,” she said. “The teachers are feeling more empowered. Their strengths are being recognized and shared. The learning targets are keeping us more focused and accountable. It’s been a very enlightening month. We differentiate for students; now we are differentiating for staff. It has been very productive so far and we’re only halfway through September.”


Reporting on the Institute work at Hawthorne Elementary School, Principal Nikki Tammaru and Instructional Coach Effey Nasis noted that “We defined rigor, showed the rigor/relevance framework quadrant and talked about student engagement. We began with the belief statements developed this summer by the administrative team:

  • ALL students must learn and grow
  • We accept shared responsibility for student growth
  • We make decisions based on what is best for students
  • We are a future-focused community of learners

“I feel this is the foundation of everything we’re going to do moving forward. Having a systematic approach that we’re all sharing together is crucial,” said Principal Tammaru. “We’re already 90 days beyond where we thought we would be at this point.”


Ms. Nasis has been helping teachers create a scope and sequence, as well as all of the other requirements related to rigor and engagement. She’s been doing a lot of modeling in classrooms and serving as a resource to teachers. Ms. Nasis, who taught for eight years at Bryan, was concerned about being accepted by the teachers at Hawthorne. “The level of collaboration that I’ve seen has been an amazing experience.”


Principal Tammaru noted that “teachers are feeling more supported through our PLC (Professional Learning Community) work and are not so alone in their classrooms. We could not have pulled off [the implementation of] this new English Language Arts curriculum without Effey. There are so many light bulbs going off in our building that we’re going to blow a circuit.”


Ms. Baum noted that “We have seen random acts of improvement in the past; now we are working toward a consistent, high-quality learning experience across the District. Instructional rounds are a way of benchmarking best practices. We are gathering data on how implementation is going. The strength of our instructional coaching is that it’s consistent across the District.”




Enrollment Update


Superintendent Dave Moyer reported that as of August 31, there were 8,396 students enrolled. The District projected 8,387 students for the 2016-17 school year, nine less than are currently enrolled. “So our overall enrollment is almost right on the projection. We don’t have any elementary classes in the District that have more than 26 students in them.” To see the breakdown, please click here.


“Class sizes at the middle school level are a little higher than we would ideally like. I’m hoping the Middle School Study will help us with that. Class sizes at the high school haven’t changed much from last year,” said Dr. Moyer.


Chris Whelton, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, will present internal enrollment projections, based on the fall housing report (September 30, 2016).


Middle School Task Force Update


In May, a Middle School Task Force (MSTF) annual report was presented to the Board of Education. Part of that recommendation was the hiring of instructional coaches, which has been achieved.


Dr. Moyer noted that the MSTF met in August for the September parent presentations and review. In September, school teams will present on the work of the Middle School Task Force in conjunction with regularly scheduled PTA meetings. School teams will meet to discuss pros and cons of different schedule options, and, this fall, the large group will begin to analyze potential schedule revisions for the 2017-18 school year.


In November, Diane Ullman of the District Management Council will be in the District to help facilitate the Task Force’s work in this area and address other areas of concern as it moves forward.


Later this fall, there will be a more comprehensive report for the Board, and when schedule options are more refined, they will be shared publicly. At this point, there will be additional opportunities for feedback and input.




Chris Blum reported that William Blair & Company priced over $18M in bonds on September 13 on the District’s behalf, resulting in $2.2M in savings to the taxpayers, or about 10% of the original value of the bonds.


“This was our sixth and final bond refinancing for a while, with a total of $14,971,000 in savings that comes straight off property tax bills. We’ve restructured the debt so that we pay it off sooner at about one third of the interest rate we have been paying,” noted Jim Collins.


Margaret Harrell will be representing the Board and voting on the proposed bylaws at the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) meeting.


President Shannon Ebner noted they she is still working to schedule a Board development session with the IASB in October or November and will forward proposed dates to Board members. The structure of the meeting can be tailored to whatever the Board would like.




September 20 – Performance Management Committee – 6:30 PM – District 205 Center

September 22 – Special Board of Education Meeting – 6:00 PM – District 205 Center

September 27 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

October 3 – Focus 205 Community Engagement Session #5 – 7:00 PM – York HS Commons

October 11 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

October 24 – Focus 205 Focus Group Meetings at Bryan, Churchville and Sandburg MS – 7 PM

October 25 – Board of Education Meeting – 7:30 PM – District 205 Center

NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings is usually posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is usually posted within 24 hours at (please click on appropriate meeting date). Specifics related to each meeting, including Board votes, may be accessed via BoardDocs at

NOTE: Video footage of all Board of Education regular meetings are posted on 205TV within 48 hours. Audio is posted within 24 hours at (please click on appropriate meeting date).