Work Underway on Recommendations from Community Engagement

This past fall, District 34 teamed up with a group of local residents to launch an extensive community engagement program – 34Next: Community Views on Glenview 34 Schools. The purpose of the program was for District 34 to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s values and help further shape the district’s priorities for its future.
 
Following four engagement sessions and much community feedback, a set of five recommendations were presented to the Board of Education in December and finalized in February.  A review of these recommendations and information on how they are being addressed is listed below. As work continues, this will again be shared with the local community.
 
Recommendation #1: Develop an effective model of communication on potential program changes that clearly explains the educational and financial impacts. The Board must work to confirm the community’s understanding. This type of high-level communication should be proactive in nature, allowing time for the community to respond appropriately, and be translated into other languages. Examples of when this model of communication would be used include: explaining the financial impacts of lowering class size, highlighting changes in technology, or providing information on pending legislation that would have a significant impact on district finances.
 
Progress on Recommendation #1: A Communications Plan will be presented to the Board of Education in August. This plan will outline several strategies meant to improve the effectiveness of all district communication.  Meanwhile, two specific examples of program changes that followed the model above (i.e., educational and financial impact considerations) included the social emotional curriculum and the Response to Intervention recommendations to the Board.  As these programs launch and mature, ongoing efforts to gauge community understanding will be implemented (i.e., parent and community surveys, etc.).  Next year, two other efforts will utilize the recommended communication model, as recommended changes are considered:  Kindergarten Program Study and the System Supported Collaboration Time for Teacher Professional Growth.  Finally, a third example of when this recommended communication model has been used was for the Strategic Plan Review Process, when the educational need/impact and financial impact were communicated, in relation to its proposed recommendations.  Assuredly, more work lies ahead for fully implementing Recommendation #1, but its influence on district thinking and work has been immediate. 
 
Recommendation #2: Strengthen the school community’s understanding of the district’s Strategic Plan, and how testing and assessment support that plan. This is especially important given that the landscape of testing and assessments is changing, and we need to ensure there is a balance with other measurements relating to Whole Child Education. There should also be an emphasis on providing information on when testing will take place, the purpose and value of each test, and how the test results will be utilized.
 
Progress on Recommendation #2:  Presently, there is information available on our website about the current use of district-wide assessments, when they take place, and for what purposes the resulting information is used (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QJo5eIRuASwUM44aayO4I2x8a6OjDJFU6aLlgIfzD1E/edit).  This is an initial effort to realize the desired outcomes expressed in Recommendation #2, with more work ahead.  Also, for the 2015-2016 school year, we have an assessment indicator that states, “By June 2016, a balanced comprehensive assessment system will be approved by EDCO.”  The work for this indicator will lead to District 34 having a clearly defined system of assessments that includes a balance of the following types: Universal Screeners, Assessments that Inform Instruction, Student Accountability Measures, and Program Evaluation Measures.  More information will be shared regarding the work and outcomes of this, as it becomes available. 
 
Recommendation #3: Conduct an extensive study on the educational need/value and feasibility of full-day kindergarten. The study should look into the educational value of full-day kindergarten and facility constraints and include a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis.
 
Progress on Recommendation #3: The Kindergarten Program Study, which began earlier this school year, will continue into the summer and next fall/winter, before a recommendation is reached and presented to the Board for consideration. The purpose of this study is to identify gaps between the district’s current kindergarten program and any outstanding, unmet school-community needs, and, if found, how to close that gap. The study is being conducted by a team of administrators and teachers and will include input/feedback from our parent community.  Any changes, if at all, to the current kindergarten program likely won’t be made until the 16-17 school year or later. 
 
Recommendation #4: Share a comprehensive understanding of the district’s philosophy regarding the use of technology in the educational process with the school community.  Continue providing proper instructional technology support to the staff through professional development.
 
Progress on Recommendation #4: As a component to the 2015-16-DALFA Plan, the essence of this recommendation will be addressed by the district. DALFA, which is the technology advisory board to the district, will present this plan to the Board in September.
 
Recommendation #5: Continue celebrating the diversity of the D34 community through measures meant to reach, communicate with, and engage all populations.
 
Progress on Recommendation #5:  A more comprehensive translation document program has been developed and will be implemented over the next two years that ensures all vital documents are translated into the languages of the district’s largest bilingual groups. By providing all critical documents in these home languages, it will contribute toward stronger communication and more possibilities for engagement. The district also modified its residency process to provide better support to homeless families. Moving forward, the administration is looking into developing a new partnership with Glenbrook Hospital to provide wellness services to our low-income students.  Additionally, a Korean bilingual program is starting in the district next year.  To be sure, more work will be done, but advances have been made already related to broadening and extending our reach to all populations.