• Category 2

    Selected in 2014

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: suburban
    Town Population: 65,176
    Student Enrollment: 394
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 9.3%
    White/Caucasian: 35.2%
    Hispanic: 19.8%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.3%
    Asian: 32.5%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 2.9%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:20
    % Reduced Lunch: 51%
    % ELL Learners: 20%
    Founded: 1956
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Leslie Gordon
  • CONTACT:
    9700 Crawford Avenue
    Skokie, IL 60076
    847-676-9380
    lgordon@skokie68.org
Highland Elementary School
Skokie, IL
“Everyone has to have a part in school improvement (teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, and students). The changes implemented in order to affect improvement has to come from the best and most current research and be data driven, but also has to meet the unique needs of the student population. Change takes time and usually meets resistance at some level. Therefore, it's important to start the change process with a "bright spot", taking advantage of an idea that maybe only a few people know about or are willing to learn about and subsequently implement. The excitement that comes from those few staff members (and maybe only one member), can then be used to start the change conversation, educate others about the advantages of that change, and pass the excitement about that change throughout the school and/or district."
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
Among the many things we do, Heritage Night has been our most successful activity. Each year we host a night were all of our families are invited to "show off" their heritage by dressing in native clothing, bringing a native dish to share, display information about their culture/country, and/or perform a native song/dance. Heritage Night is our most popular and highly attended event. Having said that, I will also say that we are continually looking for more ways to get parents/families more involved in our school.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
We have a learning centered, caring environment that’s accepting of the diversity that’s prevalent throughout Skokie. We work as a team and in teams to disaggregate data which helps us identify skills in which we need to focus our instruction. This collegiality and team work is imperative to our belief that all of us are responsible for all of our students. In addition to our building level teams working well together, we work as a district to learn from each other and improve instruction. We strive constantly to provide a safe and supportive place for our students in which they love to learn.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
We use formative assessments continually to inform instruction that includes everything from observation and questioning to exit slips and written assignments. We also use progress monitoring assessment such as Aimsweb to determine which students need additional tier 2 or tier 3 interventions and which type of interventions they need. MAP data also informs our instruction along with classroom based assessments. Leadership and grade level teams of teachers continually disaggregate the data both at the building level and the district level.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
I strongly believe that there is not one program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, but rather a combination of many factors/initiatives that has led to our success in closing the gap and keeping our scores strong (in general, this is our multi-tiered system of support). Within that system is our TACC (teacher/assistant/coach collaboration) teams that leads to interventions for students who need them. These teams meet 4 times a year to review data and determine which students need interventions, and what type of interventions they need. We have worked hard to refine this system and now have 4-5 different types of reading interventions (each student who needs this additional instruction receives at least 30 minutes of small group instruction in addition to our core curriculum per day) along with an after school computer based math intervention that serves approximately 40 students.
Explain how Title I funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
We use Title I funds to support 9 additional support hours per day of Reading intervention for Highland students. We also use the funds to purchase additional software like Ticket to Read and Brain Pop. We purchase supplementary reading and curriculum materials. We purchase connecting Math, Reasoning and Writing, Leanguage for Learning, Reading Mastery, National Geopgraphic Reach, and Read Naturally. This year we are purchasing Chrome books and Ipads to be used at the school. We also offer professional development for Title I staff and core content teachers of Title I students. Lastly, we pay part of our instructional coach's salary out of Title I funds to provide instructional coaching to Title I staff.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
Everyone has to have a part in school improvement (teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, and students). The changes implemented in order to affect improvement has to come from the best and most current research and be data driven, but also has to meet the unique needs of the student population. Change takes time and usually meets resistance at some level. Therefore, it's important to start the change process with a "bright spot", taking advantage of an idea that maybe only a few people know about or are willing to learn about and subsequently implement. The excitement that comes from those few staff members (and maybe only one member), can then be used to start the change conversation, educate others about the advantages of that change, and pass the excitement about that change throughout the school and/or district.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
Most of our professional development is done inside the district with teams (i.e. grade level teams, subject area meetings, consultants, learning teams, etc.). This gives us an opportunity to take advantage of the expertise in our own district, work together in professional learning teams to set and accomplish goals, and tailor instruction to meet the needs of our students. A goal for the next several years is to continue to improve our use of data, both formative and summative, to inform instruction.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
We are now a part of our township Parent Mentor Program which gives parents that speak another language and/or are from different cultures a chance to gain employment skills by working as an instructional assistant at Highland. Each parent spends 4 mornings per week in a primary classroom assisting a teacher and students. On the fifth day of the week, they all meet for professional development. This is a great opportunity for them to become more knowledgeable about the American school system, gain skills that will help them to more successfully access the job market, and be a more active participant in their child's learning. This initiative is in collaboration with the township ELL parent center, which provides many opportunities for parents to learn English and to learn about the American school system and community resources such as good health care, etc.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
I believe it is our multi-tiered system of support, which includes a strong core curriculum that is aligned to common core/state standards as well as many levels and types of intervention, based on data from formative and summative assessments and the needs of the students.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Our two goals for this year and into next year are to refine our multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), and increase students' academic and social/emotional growth. We now have a committee to specifically address and improve our MTSS, articulate that vision to the entire faculty, provide professional development in collaboration with our teacher-leadership team, and implement any needed changes. This in turn, we know, will have a direct correlation to increased student growth. In the next several years, we will be tracking that growth using a variety of data sources/assessments.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2014

  • Grades: pre k - 5
    School Setting: suburban
    Town Population: 65,176
    Student Enrollment: 394
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 9.3%
    White/Caucasian: 35.2%
    Hispanic: 19.8%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.3%
    Asian: 32.5%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 2.9%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:20
    % Reduced Lunch: 51%
    % ELL Learners: 20%
    Founded: 1956
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Leslie Gordon
  • CONTACT:
    9700 Crawford Avenue
    Skokie, IL 60076
    847-676-9380
    lgordon@skokie68.org