Array of changes as D90 starts new school year

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By Deborah Kadin

Contributing reporter

Changes are in store for River Forest's District 90 this year including a new standardized test, a principal at Willard Elementary, new teachers in each building and, as the school year unfolds, another avenue to explore in science.

Nearly 1,350 youngsters this week walked through the doors at Lincoln and Willard Elementary Schools as well as Roosevelt Middle School; the enrollment total was just shy of last year's figures.

Students in grades third through eighth will be gearing up this year to take a new assessment. The PARCC exam will be administered in two parts. In March, students will take the practical part of the test, in which they will be given tasks to do to indicate how their skills have developed in mathematics and English language arts. The second part of the exam, to be taken in May, will help look at their progress during the school year, District 90 Superintendent Ed Condon said. It will assess reading and vocabulary, math concepts and short applications, Condon added.

The test will emphasize the academic rigor, critical thinking, problem solving and college and career readiness for students that are important parts of Common Core.

"Students will be ready for the assessment and teachers will be prepared to help guide students through this assessment process successfully," Condon said.

This will be the fourth year that the more rigorous standards will be implemented in District 90. This year the curriculum will be further refined; students will be reading more novels in grades third through fifth and teachers will be focusing on how to improve math instruction to align with Common Core standards, said Martha Ryan-Toye, the director of student services for District 90. A staff committee will review and refine writing standards this year, she added.

In all, 129 certified staff, eight administrators and 59-non-certified staff members will be in District 90 schools and at the administration center, officials said.

In the coming weeks solar panels will be providing electricity to the buildings, allowing students to learn more about alternative energy sources and sustainability. A one-kilowatt array already has been installed at Roosevelt; one-kilowatt arrays at Lincoln and Willard are still under construction, Condon said. Much of the cost of the equipment comes from a grant provided by the Clean Energy Foundation; the district and the PTOS also shared in the costs.

"This will integrate well with our science curriculum," Condon said.

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