District 156 to offer student mentor program

McHENRY – District 156 has identified its trouble spot, its superintendent said.

With four years of testing data under its belt, the district was able to develop a district improvement plan that focuses on the students who aren’t experiencing as much growth in their scores as expected, Superintendent Mike Roberts said.

The district was able to track students from eighth grade through their junior year, and students who score 12 to 15 on the eighth-grade test don’t achieve the five-point growth the district is shooting for, Roberts said.

A score of 16 on the eighth-grade test, on average, translates to a 21 on the ACT, which is the state average.

Students scoring an 18 or above, meanwhile, are doing “remarkably well,” improving their scores by six to eight points, he said.

The plan, which was approved by the school board at its meeting Monday evening, also proposes two new programs that school officials believe will have a “tremendous impact” on those students scoring 12 to 15.

The first is a mentoring program where juniors and seniors volunteer to go into freshman study halls to help students who need extra support or who have requested it.

The second is extra math help to be provided by certified math teachers, who instead of being put on hallway or lunchroom duty, will be “floating teachers,” going into classrooms to give one-on-one assistance to students.

The plan was proposed by the math teachers, which is why it is starting in that department, Roberts said.

Expanding the program could be difficult, he added, because the schools still need to cover hallway and lunchroom duties.

“Those two things, as simple as it sounds, should make a significant difference,” Roberts said.

The district is required to pass district improvement plans as well as school improvement plans because it failed to meet “adequate yearly progress” as defined by state standards at least two years in a row.

The two school improvement plans have not yet been presented to the board, but they will mirror the district plan, Roberts said. The board will vote on the plans before the end of the school year.

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