These practices are delivered through curriculum that has been developed using the Understanding by Design model. This model allows for the alignment of the learning objectives with assessments, and these assessments allow teachers to determine students’ level of understanding rather than simple recall of knowledge and application of skills.
Student learning is monitored and instruction adjusted through the use of frequent assessments provided by common assessments within a department and the EPAS system adopted by the district. Core common assessments link classroom content and skills to the Illinois Learning Standards and ACT College Readiness Standards. Individual student growth against these standards is tracked utilizing the Mastery Manager system. The EPAS system consists of a battery of assessments: the 9th grade EXPLORE, 10th grade PLAN, and 11th grade ACT. Students are administered these tests twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The assessments not only prepare students for the PSAE in the spring of their junior year, but they also provide an opportunity to measure the academic growth of a cohort of students over three years.
As we continue to develop these practices, we strive to be more responsive to students’ needs by utilizing differentiated instructional strategies, which allow teachers to vary instruction based upon student readiness, interests and learning profile. In addition, the teachers incorporate a variety of instructional strategies, such as the use of reading strategies and cooperative learning that have a high probability of increasing student achievement.