Six Plainfield Schools Labeled ‘In Need of Improvement;’ Parents Offered School Choice

Under No Child Left Behind, campuses that don’t make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years must give parents the option of sending students to higher-performing schools.

Six schools — five elementary schools and one middle school — were slapped with the “in need of improvement” label for not hitting a benchmark set by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act.

Under NCLB, districts must give parents the option of sending their students to higher-performing schools when a campus fails to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) on state tests for two years in a row.

Under the law, AYP is defined as an annual improvement of 7.5 percentage points on test scores. In order to make AYP, students in all NCLB subgroups — including low-income, limited English proficient and students with special needs — must have test score increases of 7.5 percentage points.

This year, the following campuses were defined as failing under NCLB, giving parents a choice to send their kids to other schools, with District 202 providing transportation:

  • Creekside Elementary School
  • Grand Prairie Elementary School

District 202 Community Relations Director Tom Hernandez noted that while the schools did not make AYP for two years in a row, three of them — Crystal Lawns, Creekside and Timber Ridge — did hit the mark this year.

Those schools will have to make AYP for two years in a row to have the school choice requirement lifted.

“All six of them in various, very significant ways, made significant progress” on test scores, Hernandez said. “Under a growth model, this would not be an issue.”

Parents at all six campuses received a letter in early August notifying them that they could opt to send students to a different campus. 

Hernandez said he did not know exactly how many parents took the district up on that offer, saying it was “more than a handful, but not a lot.”

Parents had their pick of and Wesmere elementaries and Drauden Point and middle schools.

The district will use Title I funds, which are federal dollars available to schools with high percentages of students from low-income families, to pay the additional transportation costs associated with school choice, Hernandez said.

Under NCLB, Crystal Lawns, which failed to make AYP for three consecutive years, must also offer supplemental educational services in the form of tutoring. After four years, schools are subject to corrective action from the state board of education, and could face state-mandated restructuring after five years.

For students whose parents opted to transfer them, the district must allow them to remain at their new campus until they have completed the highest grade level at the school. In other words, a sixth-grader who transfers would be allowed to complete eighth grade at his or her new school. However, if the student’s home campus makes AYP for two years in a row, the district is no longer required to provide transportation, making it parents' responsibility.

According to a letter sent to parents at the six campuses on Aug. 2, families were required to notify the district if they planned to switch schools by Aug. 13.

Parents also received a letter from Superintendent John Harper, along with their campus’ principal.

NCLB's future unclear

With No Child Left Behind’s future uncertain, Hernandez said it’s also unclear what that means for District 202’s school choice campuses.

By next year, "It could be a moot point," Hernandez said.

As NCLB approaches its 10th birthday, the law has produced mixed results, and, in an article in the Huffington Post, former U.S. Department of Education researcher Mark Schneider cited politically driven “significant flaws” in the law.  

“The process is moving to common core standards,” Hernandez said, noting that 46 states, including Illinois, have adopted statewide common standards.

“Most of the states are moving toward a growth model as opposed to those 7.5 percent percentage points,” he said, referring to AYP.

Does your child attend one of the six school choice campuses? Did you opt to switch schools, or choose to remain? Sound off in the comments.

Cindy August 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Just wonderful.... let's bring down the scores of the schools that are doing well so that they can perform just as poorly or mediocre as the others. Funny that the article doesn't discuss the increased class size our schools are now having to contend with and the lack of good parenting skills that have probably contributed to low scores. Parenting skills don't improve just because your child is attending a new school. Great job with this Illinois/US Government!
Working Man August 30, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Hey the teachers need a raise. Give them more money into their pension. Just because their worth it! Lmfao!!!!
Zach August 30, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Uh, the kids who are more likely to leave are not the kids dragging down the scores. And low scores on standardized tests have no correlation to or with parenting. The likely cause of the "failing school" designation is the performance of sub-groups within the school(s), not the overall performance. A school with very few low-income students, for example, does not need to show growth in students within that sub-group. The list of failing high schools now includes some of the best 50 schools in the state. That has a lot to do with the test and the law, not with parenting or the intelligence of the kids. Long story short: stop saying nasty things when you obviously don't know what you're talking about.
Zach August 30, 2012 at 01:30 PM
they're worth it. Not sure how you laugh that off, but glad to see you can write out of it.
John Tips August 30, 2012 at 02:36 PM
When I attended school some decades ago we had only a principal, an assistant principal, a dean of students, the teachers associated with every discipline, a few student counselors, a nurse, three secretaries, three janitors, and one maintenance worker! WE DID NOT have departmental heads with doctorates, a huge office staff, most teachers did not even have a master's degree! Today we have departmental heads with doctorates, most teachers have masters degrees, and the administrative staff is huge! Our Plainfield Schools are Taj Mahals built to house the principal kings of education! HOWEVER our children's education often falls short of other scholastic achievements associated with private schools! We can no longer afford to throw money at a problem and hope that it will repair itself! Mr.Hernandez is praying that the president will be ousted this fall and that No Child Left Behind will be mooted. Failure of any system to function at its peak, cannot be the fault of one individual, it is the fault of all who employ it! Mr. Harper is in charge of these schools, however it it the District 202 board which must be blamed for making some poor decision which have lead to the demise and the grade of our education here in Plainfield, associated with their continued spending and their oversight/control.
Grandpamike August 30, 2012 at 03:06 PM
@Working Man Why don't you just home school your kids, that way the teachers will only educate children whose parents still think that teachers are necessary and are generally underpaid ?
Brandon August 30, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I find you comment a bit insulting to the students that attend those 6 schools. Do you think they are so stupid that that will hurt your school? That's a bit of an blanket comment, don't you think. My child goes to one of those 6 schools, and his personal scores on the testing was WAY above the state standards. There are many flaws with the way the testing is done. I do agree, that parents do have to devote more time to their kids and their education. Keep in mind many parents are working longer hours just to make their family survive. This is where the schools have to step it up and help those families in extra need.
Lisa S. August 30, 2012 at 05:02 PM
"With No Child Left Behind’s future uncertain, Hernandez said it’s also unclear what that means for District 202’s school choice campuses.By next year, "It could be a moot point," Hernandez said." Yes Tom...the school choice provision may become a moot point. However, the failure of our schools is NOT. Less administrators and 'community relations staff' and more teachers may help move us in a more educated direction. .
Klgarr August 30, 2012 at 05:37 PM
We decided to stay put in our School.
MidwestGal August 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I do not think Cindy meant to insult ALL the students attending the in need of imporv. school. I agree with what she was trying to say though. Why should my child who attends one of the schools these kids can be transfered to have to deal with art on a cart and music on a cart plus large class sizes? Why do they have to suffer with over crowding? How about FIX the crummy schools? The teachers & parents work their butts off for successful kids and a great school atmosphere - you talk to parents from many of the above listed schools and they don't even know their kids teacher's name! Not to mention if you are going to teach the Polish, Spanish, etc. speaking kids English for free (with great classroom ratios for ESL kids) - you better be teaching MY child a second language too! How about EQUAL oppurtunities for our kids. The cut gifted and reading recovery but not ESL! The teachers should get a raise, well, good teachers should.
Diane August 30, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Before speaking about these school, you should know more about NCLB. It sounds all good and fine but when you actually read it, it is crazy. The problem is in the sub groups. Imagine a child that has a IQ of a 2nd grader and is supposed to take a test for a fifth grader. The problem is with the system, not the schools, not the teachers. You cannot expect these sub-groups to perform the same as the larger groups of students. If a student does not perform to the same level as the rest of the class, you cannot hold this student back to help them. If you do, then you lose funding for that student. Not every child learns at the same pace and with the same speed. What you do with a child sometimes won't take shape for years. NCLB should be thrown away!
Bill August 30, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Repeal NCLB, get the Federal bureaucrats out of local matters and put the decision making process back in the hands of the state, local school districts and parents. We already tossed the letter to switch schools in the trash. What a bunch of arbitrary poorly written regulations. Why must the schools increase by 7.5 percentage points, because someone in the Dept of Education said so. Why switch schools, there are all levels of quality teachers at all schools, just like every profession. The education of the kids ultimately rests with the family, no matter what school they attend. Our children will rise to the level of expectation we have for them.
Working Man August 30, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@ gpamike. Do you like to pay for something you never receive? @zach or should I say sack. When you use your smart phone it sometimes picks the wrong word. I forgot your perfect. Ball zach.
Grandpamike August 30, 2012 at 11:22 PM
@Working Man Judging by your comment before, and above, you are a person whose comments are to be ignored as they are to ignorant to respond to. As far as paying for something I never receive, yes I do. I do not use any of the services or parks, or schools, or ball fields, or anything else that Plainfield has to offer, but, I pay taxes that support all of those things and am happy to do it. Too many people like you, have no foresight to see that these are the building blocks to a great community, one where people would be happy to reside in. I saw the same attitude in the last town I lived in where people said exactly the same things about not paying for services they didn't use, and I always spoke the opposite, saying that by building fields and improving schools, in the long run make for a better and highly desirable place to live, and also HIGHER home values for the same reason.
Jim W August 31, 2012 at 12:07 AM
@Working Man If you are going to be a buffoon, at least attempt to write properly. It is apparent that school was very hard for you and that you have somehow projected all of your own personal academic failures upon teachers. Now, since you were upset about paying for something that you never received, I have taken the liberty of correcting your little, witty diatribes. Happy now? ;-) You should have written: Hey, the teachers need a raise. Give them more money to put into their pensions, just because they're worth it. LMFAO!!! Also, it's you're perfect, not your perfect.
Justmyopinion August 31, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Maybe if the teacher did their jobs they would get a raise. I am not saying all teachers don't do their job because SOME do. Maybe there should be no such thing as tenure and teachers have to meet certain standards to maintain there jobs. I don't know to many professions that guarantee you a job because you have so many years in that position. If you don't want to do the job anymore do the district a favor and retire or go elsewhere!
Zach August 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Your = you're. If YOU'RE going to ridicule teachers and use YOUR time trying to ridicule me while you call YOURself "working man" via smartphone, you could, you know, check YOUR work before you post. My guess is YOUR job involves you pretending to do work while you spend most of YOUR time stewing over the fact that you are an unhappy troglodyte.
MomOf2 August 31, 2012 at 08:53 PM
My son attends Central now, and my daughter attended for all of her elementary school "career." We chose not to switch schools for many reasons -- first and foremost because it is a great school filled with, in our experience, caring, dedicated, and talented teachers who go above and beyond to help their students. It's easy to point fingers and blame the test scores on bad teachers or poor parenting. But it's more complex than that. Some kids don't do well on standardized tests. Some kids learn and develop more slowly than others - my son has been one of them when it comes to reading (he went from below grade level to well above in the space of a year, thanks in part to his teacher's expert help). And when you dig deeper into what NCLB requires, it seems great in theory, unrealistic in practice. MidwestGal, you point out that Cindy probably didn't mean to insult ALL of the students at these 6 schools ... but it sure seems like you intended to finish the job. Our school is not "crummy" and we, too, have parents and teachers who "work their butts off for successful kids and a great school atmosphere." I hope that you are in the minority at your school and is not indicative of the type of welcome your school is giving to kids who have transferred. Can we stop the NIMBY-ing and recognize that these are OUR kids, regardless of what school they attend?
Holly September 03, 2012 at 08:18 PM
No matter how hard working devoted and just plain wonderful our teachers are there is no substitute for discipline at home and parent involvement in the schools. If you want high achieving children and lower cost schools get involved with your children. Don't expect teachers to do your part of the job.
Monty Lee September 03, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I know the teachers blame it on the test or the parents. It has nothing to do with the teachers. Hopefully the powers that be can institute some of Wisconsin's movements to get rid of the bad apples that are teaching. I went to school in Chicago and it was not pretty. Kelly High School on the southwest side still has a more than 50% dropout rate 30 years later. 50% of the Teachers cared 50% didn't but i think they still need a 7% raise because its all about the children, hahaha. We don't want any of them losing their Union goodies, half of them can't even walk the picket line they are so OVERWEIGHT, nice example for the kids, Mrs Buttersworth. Just remember how good teachers got it when your property taxes get raised to the stratosphere to support these greedy, self serving individuals. Just remember it's all about the CHILDREN, the ones that are teaching our kids............
Monty Lee September 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Hey Bill, put it in the state's hands are you KIDDING ME??????? You must be getting one of those $250,000.00 dollar pensions from our great state of Illinois for working at a $40,000.00 dollar a year job. Also 83 Billion dollars in the hole because of the generous pension plans, YEAH put it in the states hands, give me a break!!!!!! I know blame it on Springfield..............
LMS September 03, 2012 at 10:10 PM
If you start at the Plainfield 202 website you can navigate from there to any and all of the schools' "report cards" for more information regarding why they didn't meet AYP. Among other data you'll see charts summarizing the 2011 Adequate Yearly Progress Status Report. For example it looks like in 2011 Central didn't meet AYP for Students with Disabilities/Reading and Crystal Lawns didn't meet AYP for Economically Disadvantaged/Reading. I strongly suggest commenters do some research on the requirements of meeting AYP as well as researching the specific results of specific schools before posting remarks that sweepingly insult our district, our teachers, the parents, our children, or anyone else. Yes, "Something needs to be done!!" but let's talk about the specifics of what and how instead of spouting off ill-informed nonsense full of generalities and guesswork that have nothing to with anything. If you don't have specific ideas on how to improve math, reading, or science instruction and/or scores for specific student subgroups chances are high you don't have anything constructive to add to the conversation.
Grandpamike September 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
@Monty Lee Some bad teachers are to blame, but most are not. NCLB put most of what the teachers have to teach and how to teach are a major thorn in all of the school systems in the US. They are required to teach to test scores not learning as money from the Fed will not be doled out for how many learn but how well they do on testing. I can see by you comment that you are against unions, which is fine, and your choice, but to blame the benefits that teachers have gained through union representation over the years, is downright ridiculous. Also, what has a teachers weight have to do with him/her ability to teach ? Yes, also, parents have much to do with the way children learn, if there is no respect for teachers at home, then where is the respect for learning in school ? Oh, yes, blame higher taxes on teachers salaries, or policemen, or fire fighters, not on the people responsible for higher taxes, the elected officials we put in office. So you went to school in Chicago and the dropout rate, so you say is 50%, maybe it is they neighborhood or maybe it is poor administration or maybe it is under funding, or maybe all the kids there are leaning impaired, and not that teachers are so bad.
John Tips September 06, 2012 at 04:12 PM
We taxpayer should find the fact that 6 schools failed the AYP - INSULTING! We taxpayers are paying a good dollar for our schools, and should demand the best from our teachers and supervisory staff! Plainfield should never have any schools fail! With this happening - we set the blame with Mr. Harper as the buck stops with him! In the military when a leader fails to lead, set examples, and generally FAILS to oversee the issues at hand he gets replaced! Has anyone looked at District 202 proposed budget? Here is a link -http://www.psd202.org/Documents/201213budgetdetail.pdf Are they really taking into account our kids safety when they cut Criminal Background Checks - food service, Drivers Ed, security, text books and more! Maybe that is why they wanted rifles in our schools? In this budget they added over $103,000.00 for teachers mentor programs, and are allowing $229,681.00 for travel then added over 1 MILLION DOLLARS for SITE IMPROVEMENTS????? It is SHAMEFUL to see an administrative and supervisory pay rise - when schools fail! Administrators, staff and supervisors pay should be linked to performance!
RB September 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I agree with you 100% on this comment. We pay extremely high taxes to support the school district, if their leadership cannot provide quality services they should be replaced. Text books should always be top priority over site improvement. With good teachers and good books you can learn anywhere. With beautiful buildings but no books or teachers you are doomed for life.
Turtle 71 September 11, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Would have been nice of the school to send me this letter,but seeing I am not the residential parent of a divorced Family W/ Joint Legal Custody in Plainfiled School Dist 202. Dist 202 only sends mailings to The residential parent address. Thank you Plainfield Patch for keeping me informed of my childrens education ;)


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