I recently decided to try my hand at learning another language. 30+ years ago, I took French in high school, and I do have two adopted children from Haiti whose first language is a French Creole, so learning, or relearning French was the obvious choice. I looked at several options and decided that using a free app on my phone would be a good fit for me. And then it happened, I started. And… I discovered that learning can be difficult. Learning takes time. Sometimes I have questions and need some guidance (luckily one of my oldest daughters has the seal of biliteracy in French). And, as a lifelong educator, this got me thinking about the work we’re doing in Forest Ridge 142. Let me explain.
There are a lot of ways to judge a school or a school district. Is it affluent or not, do they have good programming, good technology, good extracurriculars, relatable people, and more? Because the work of schools has changed so much over the years, it’s hard to truly gauge a school based on one measure. Schools need to be what their communities need them to be, at any given time and historical circumstance, always with an eye to the future, continuously-changing world. However, frequently, schools are judged based solely on test scores. The achievement scores, more specifically, the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) scores, will be released to the public at the end of the month. What will this tell us about schools in Illinois, and more specifically, what will this tell us about our schools in Forest Ridge?
The data is embargoed for two more weeks, but the story that will be told when looking at our IAR scores comparing last year to this year, growth has occurred. We have some of the finest schools in the State of Illinois, not just because our scores on these assessments look good and the ratings assigned by the state deem us as good, but because we actually understand how to educate children. We understand it takes time to grow students.
Regardless of the singular nature of test scores, we understand that each child has individual needs, learning styles, and topics that excite them. We understand that learning can sometimes be hard… but we also understand that by thinking of the learner first, we can create the optimum conditions for student growth and achievement. Assessing and supporting the whole child is crucial to true student growth.
There is a common thread here. Whether it be my slow acquisition of another language, or an elementary school student in one of our schools who may be struggling, if we approach learning with a little relentlessness, working hard at it every day, and if we approach learning from the perspective of the learner… the results will be/are amazing. Forest Ridge School District 142 is proud to serve the students of our community — meeting them where they are and setting appropriate goals, based on the “whole” of who they are —fighting for each child’s continued growth and development. In our District, our children will always come first, starting with appreciating the time they are with us and understanding the time they need to reach their potential!
Dr. Paul McDermott