Questions and Answers

Over the past few weeks, I have sent several questions to the board and have received answers. Some of these questions came from looking at the board agenda for Feb 24th (those at the bottom dealing with Educational Technology), others came from me stumbling upon one thing or another. My thanks to the various district administration personnel that fielded the questions.


I am curious, what does Unit 4 do with Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) responses? This is more of a personal curiosity for me; I don’t think the IYS responses should be public, but I am curious how the response are used by the district and how they inform future decisions.


We are doing the Illinois Youth Survey this spring at both high schools. This will be the first time it has been administered in at least the past 3 years according the Joe and Greg. I believe Angela has asked the middle schools to do it as well but not sure. Once we get them the data will be used as part of the school improvement process and most likely will be an update to the board and leadership.

qIn the timeline provided by Codagami in their RFP response, they collected “user stories” by November 27th. Is Unit 4 at liberty to share those stories? Or can you provide some sense of what “users” have said? Will this information trickle down to the Choice Committee at some point?


The user stories are simply portions of the dialogue surrounding Codagami’s internal software development process.  There is no formal set of user stories, only informal notes taken by representatives of Codagami which are not in the District’s possession.  These stories are merely an internal tool for Codagami which allows them to arrive at the mockups and end functionality of the application.

qI have been looking through the RPC presentations (in the context of the Central site), and it is not clear to me that a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) has been performed for the sites north of I-74. Curious, do you know if such analysis has been done for the new site? Can the results be shared? Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 18th BOE Meeting agenda is finally posted

Lots of interesting things in here. I’ll hit a few highlights that stand out to me, but you should read it for yourself:


  • Lot’s of Recognitions
  • Spotlight video on “building a high quality staff” – not yet on Vimeo so I can’t preview it
  • Newly hired high school site selection consultants Gorski/Reifsteck will give their schtick – no presentation available via boarddocs
  • District report card – only Bottenfield and South Side made AYP
  • Three high school students being recognized as Student Abassadors – interesting program, and I have a number of outstanding questions to Joe Williams about it
  • Local software company Codagami won the RFP bid for doing the Controlled Choice program to the tune of $98,500. No word on the actual contract, yet.
  • Other Misc items including a number of things about finances (change orders, Tax levy, grants, donations, etc).


Curious if anyone even cares about the Choice Policy anymore. 🙂 I mean, I do, but I have not heard much back from readers at all, yet. The final draft is going in the Consent Agenda (meaning, along with ten other items, it gets voted on in bulk). They threw in the fact that Choice program will also assign students for middle schools, and I take that to mean middle school students who are not matriculating from a fifth-grade Unit 4 school (otherwise they would follow the feeder program).


Lastly, I have asked for and am still waiting to see the RFP concerning the high school site selection consultant.


Illinois and NCLB

I came across an article listing 10 states that have been granted “flexibility” with the NCLB rules. Illinois is not on that list.


Gotta love how the Federal Department of Education says “the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB)”. Let’s see, who put that law out there?


I could have sworn Illinois was going to file a formal request. Was I mistaken? Did we not turn in all the papers on time?


I also seem to remember hearing rumblings about how our Core Curriculum is changing (Common Core State Standards?); I have not yet had the time to delve into that, but I believe it had something to do with how we will no longer be using AYP.


If you happen to know the skinny on either of these topics, please enlighten us.

What's wrong with this picture?

As a child (and even as an adult, truth be told), I rather enjoyed the “What’s wrong with this picture?” on the back of Highlights magazines. There is a picture with several humorous “impossibilities” or “extremely unlikely” nuances, for instance, a fish walking a dog. Or a car with a doughnut wheel. Or a fire hydrant spitting out grape juice.

When looking at the school district, there are several things that just seem wrong. Unfortunately, they are far more serious. Read the rest of this entry »

Highlighting some Unit 4 news

Unashamedly unoriginal

First, I was amazed (in a good way) that Unit 4 is offering free food to any child under 18 years of age. Wow! Don’t believe me, go read the announcement. I know of at least two families that could benefit from this, and I think it is a wonderful way for the community to reach out and help families in need. Especially given all the doom & gloom economic news. It is cool how the food is being offered at not only a couple schools, but also some local churches and outreach centers.

In a completely different direction, Unit 4 points to a Channel 17 news story about Barkstall making AYP (one of the few). I have not listened/watched the entire segment, but what I did observe is that those at Barkstall believe it is the environment and the “culture” of Barkstall that is the key factor. Interesting take overall – my own thoughts about standardized tests are not private. Dr. Alves would have us believe that we should use Barkstall as a role-model and attempt to “raise up” the other schools. I am thinking that is not going to happen. AYP is a slipperly slope, in my opinion. But nonetheless, I am glad for Barkstall and their current notoriety.

Lynn Peisker continues to publish lots of goodies to the Unit 4 website, including her weekly news. I have asked her about RSS feeds, and I dearly hope the Unit 4 IT folks can implement that soon – would be a big help for those of us that are online often and consume news in that fashion.