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District 124 One of the First to Try New Data Pilot Program

Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124 is one of six districts chosen throughout Illinois to participate in a data pilot program that aims to improve special education.

At Wednesday's of the Board of Education, the board learned that the district had been chosen to participate in the Illinois Data Analytics Pilot.

The program, which chose six districts across Illinois for a test run, is aimed at improving special education.

Jennifer Volpe, the district's director of Student Support Services, presented the program to the board.

Volpe said that while attending the Illinois State Board of Education Director's conference in July 2010, a presenter who talked about problems in the state asked for volunteer districts for the pilot program. She stepped forward and as a result, District 124 was the first district selected in Illinois.

The state of Illinois had to identify a problem to be part of the project. Volpe explained that "in Illinois, they identified a least-restrictive environment in terms of special education as their target."

Under the pilot program, each district is charged with using data analysis to make informed education decisions.

"The goal of this entire process is to help districts use data to make decisions on a systems level," said Volpe.

Volpe noted that in Illinois, the percentage of students with disabilities included in regular classroom settings for 80 percent or more of the day, is being done at a lower rate than the national average.

"We will look at restrictive environments in our state, and how we reduce the amount of students identified with an IEP," said Volpe.

"Throughout all of the states, too many students are identified as special education students," said Supt. Diane Cody.

The pilot program directly relates to goal No. 4  of the district's improvement plan and goals set in each school's individual improvement plan to overall improve  the experience and academic achievement of students with disabilities.

"We have the support at the state and the federal level to look at how we can improve special education services for students," said Cody.

According to Volpe, the program is funded by the Data Accountability Center, a nationally-funded grant through the U.S. Department of Education. The program works in partnership with state agencies, in this case, the Illinois State Board of Education, and local school districts to identify problems in education.

Other Business Discussed at the Board Meeting

  • The Board highlighted S student Bryan Witte for winning the Geography Bee.
  • During the district board reports, board member Robert McDonald said in the district review that science scores had risen and recognized several community service projects that students participate in throughout the year.
  • Cody presented programming recommendations for the 2011-2012 school year.
  • Cody also presented the proposed calendar for the 2011-2012 school year.
  • Assistant Supt. Kathleen Hatczel presented the curriculum for the summer school program. She said this year, summer school will run June 20- July 21, Mondays-Thursdays at Southeast Elementary School.
  • Assistant Supt. for Business Services Fran LaBellaupdated the board on the Intergovernmental Cooperative Agreement of SSBC and its financial status.
  • District 124 board approved all items on the consent agenda.

Check back with Patch for more information on District 124.

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