District 47 looks to be top district in county by 2017

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake School District 47 has some lofty goals in the next few years and will make significant investments in new curriculum tools to help reach its targets.

Superintendent Kathy Hinz said by 2017 she wants the district to be in the top 10 percent nationally at each grade level in reading and mathematics as assessed by the Measures of Academic Progress test that is used across the country.

The district has reached the 90th percentile already in some categories such as first-grade math, but other grades will have large improvements to make.

Reading scores in most grade levels ranged in the 60th percentile while math scores were slightly higher in the spring 2013 MAP assessments.

Testing for 2014 was recently completed and scores are not yet available.

Hinz also said by 2017 she wants the district to be the top performing district in McHenry County in reading and mathematics as measured by state assessments. With state assessments set to change this coming school year, past tests may not be an indicator of what students will achieve, Hinz said.

But last year’s Illinois Standards Achievement Test showed District 47 ranked fifth in the county in reading and third in math.

“We figured whichever measuring stick the state uses we’d like to be the top performing school district in the county,” Hinz said. “These are two overarching goals we can use to have conversations about resources ... and instructional decisions.”

To help get closer to that goal, the board approved a $1.3 million purchase of an anchor text and supplemental materials that will help district officials write their own English and language arts curriculum where students have struggled compared to math.

Jean Bevevino, assistant superintendent of curriculum instruction and assessment, said the teachers are getting comfortable with the material, and the curriculum could be written so changes can be made to address areas where students need more work.

“The materials will be used to help us write our own curriculum; one that is rigorous, engaging and aligned to the new Illinois learning standards,” she said. “We are raising the bar.”

The price of the materials concerned board member Nancy Gonsiorek who said reserves were accumulated to address building improvements so it would be a case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

She suggested rolling out the program on a trial basis, but was convinced and gave a reluctant approval to the purchase.

“It does concern me about spending a big chunk of cash,” Gonsiorek said. “It’s a lot of money we don’t really have.”

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