Superintendent's Corner 😎 🏫 😎

Avoca School District 37

In this issue...

  • Parent Orientation Nights
  • Student Assessments
  • Surveys on Our Return to School
  • Metrics for Determining the Right Learning Schedule
  • Safety in School and in the Community
  • Portrait of a Graduate
  • Another Special Orchestra Video - We Will Rock You

Parent Orientation Nights

About a week later than 'normal,' we are excited to conduct our Parent Orientation Nights at Avoca West tonight (Thursday, September 17) and at Marie Murphy next Tuesday (September 22). As with everything else, these moments will look different than in the past, but we know we will discover new and different ways to engage and share. Click here to go to the web page and look under "Latest News" for each principal's post with details about Parent Orientation Nights.

Student Assessments

In this last week we have asked students to complete initial assessments in various ways, including in class using curriculum based assessments or on the IXL platform. In the coming days you will hear from our principals about students taking the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in Math and Language Arts. MAP is the one standardized assessment besides the state-wide assessment that we ask students to take.

This year, for the Fall MAP, we will use a shorter version and we will utilize a remote option. This will feel different and could produce different types of results. However, MAP is just one small piece of the assessment puzzle that we use to inform teachers about how they can support students. No single assessment dictates any decisions regarding student instruction or support.

Our goal is to have assessments not be intrusive but work together so teachers can have as complete a picture of student learning as possible. Additionally, our SEL team is developing an assessment, based on the work of the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL), so we can get a good sense of students social emotional health now that we are a few weeks into school. In this way, we can be truly responsive to our student needs over time.

Surveys on Our Return to School

Another 'heads up' is to be on the lookout for a survey which will be sent to students, staff, and parents seeking feedback about our return to school thus far. We will seek to assess how well we have done in terms of health and safety, meeting students academic needs, and supporting students, staff, and families in their learning in our new COVID reality.

Results from this survey will be shared at the October 8 Board meeting and with the community. Likewise, those results will inform any improvements we make (in addition to some already under way) and our next steps regarding learning for the second quarter.

Metrics on Our Return to School

The driving priority for our next steps in conducting school safely and effectively will be monitoring metrics that tell us the status of COVID in the community and the schools.

Click here to see our current metrics for determining which learning schedule can be deployed safely and effectively - modified onsite, hybrid, or fully remote. These metrics are similar to those used by other elementary districts in New Trier Township and rely on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Harvard Global Health Institute.

These data ultimately will tell us how we can conduct school safely and we will rely on them as much as possible to make informed decisions.

Safety in Our Schools and Community

Those metrics that guide our decision are ultimately meaningless if we do not take the necessary precautions to keep our community as safe as possible from COVID. Between physical distancing, masks and desk shields, and additional hygiene steps, and additional precautions around students and staff staying home when ill, we are taking extraordinary measures inside the schools to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We must do the same when we are in the community. Please for yourselves and our students:

  • Wear your masks whenever you are with anyone outside your immediate family
  • Avoid crowds or groups of more than 10 or 15 unless specific physical distancing and masking measures are being followed
  • Avoid travel to COVID hotspots and quarantine upon return from such locations if you must travel there
  • If your student is showing any of the symptoms of COVID, stay home and call the school nurse for guidance
  • When your student leaves the house, make sure they are wearing their mask
  • Complete your annual vaccinations and get a flu shot

Ultimately, if steps like these are not taken, then all of the steps we are taking inside the school will be wasted.

Portrait of a Graduate

"Portrait of a Graduate" is a process developed by a national educational non-profit organization. It is designed to help communities create unique "North Stars" around which school communities can design important changes.

Specifically, before we engage in strategic planning for the future of Avoca School District 37, we will come together to identify our North Star, meaning those qualities in students we want to foster for their own, our community's, and the wider world's betterment. Such an endeavor could scarcely be more important than it is right now.

I will share more in the coming weeks, then seek students, parents and staff members who wish to participate in this important process. The result will be a recommended Portrait of a Graduate for adoption by the Board of Education.

Once adopted, that will guide our community's strategic planning in the 2021-22 school year. If you would like to learn more about the Portrait of a Graduate process, please visit their website, where you can learn more and see examples from other districts.