Nick Myers' Learning Story


Schaumburg School District 54 is the largest elementary school district in the state of Illinois. Located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, District 54 is composed of 27 diverse schools and services over 13,800 students in grades PreK-8th grade. Over the course of the past five years, District 54 has witnessed unprecedented gains in academic achievement. Specifically, the District has increased its percentage of students meeting state proficiency standards in reading from 76% in 2005 to 87.5% in 2009. Achievement gains in math have been even more dramatic with the district moving from 80% of students meeting state proficiency standards in 2005 to over 93% of students meeting state standards in 2009. Overall, the district has moved from being ranked 241st in academic achievement amongst all districts in the state of Illinois in 2005 to 96th in 2009. These dramatic improvements in academic achievement are the direct result of the district’s implementation of the Professional Learning Communities at Work model developed by leading educational consultants Dr. Rick DuFour, Becky DuFour and Dr. Bob Eaker.School District 54’s road to improvement began during the fall of 2005 when school teams – alongside members of the Board of Education, district administration and union leadership – attended a powerful two-day staff development session on the Professional Learning Communities at Work model facilitated directly by Dr. Rick and Becky DuFour. This initial training session proved to be extremely critical in ensuring a common understanding of the PLC at Work framework calling for:-Development and articulation of shared mission, vision and collective commitments across the District 54 learning community.-Establishment of high performing collaborative teams at school sites who truly take the responsibility for ensuring that students have mastered grade level appropriate skills and can demonstrate this learning in authentic ways.-Analysis of state and district content standards to clarify essential learning outcomes in each subject area and ensure that all teachers are aware of the specific skills and competencies expected to be mastered by students exiting a given grade level and/or course.-Development of common formative assessments to be administered to all students in a grade level/course to determine student mastery of essential learning outcomes and inform instructional practice. -Development of powerful systems of intervention to provide additional time and support for students not mastering essential outcomes.Immediately following this training, School Leadership Teams across the district began to analyze their current reality and formulate strategic plans to transform their schools into true Professional Learning Communities. At the district level, additional measures were taken to solidify the system’s commitment to this research-based model for school improvement.During the 2006-2007 school year, a Board goals committee was convened in District 54. This committee was composed of Board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, community members and students and worked diligently to establish District 54’s mission, vision, collective commitments and goals. The newly created mission, ‘Ensuring Student Success’, became the foundation for our future. In addition, the committee established an extremely focused goal to guide the work of all 27 schools in the system:”At least 90% of all students will meet or exceed state academic standards in reading and math as measured by both district and state assessments.”At the time this goal was set, no school in District 54 had 90% of its students meeting or exceeding state academic standards in reading and math ‘ eleven of our 27 schools attained this distinction last school year.Throughout the past four school years, additional district-wide two-day trainings have been facilitated by the DuFours to provide ongoing support for school efforts at implementing the PLC at Work model. School Leadership Teams at each of our sites have engaged in the hard work of reorganizing teachers, who previously taught in isolation, into high performing collaborative teams who utilize common planning meetings to:-Work collaboratively to establish and work towards attainment of targeted student achievement goals.-Work collaboratively to identify essential learning outcomes to be mastered by every student.-Work collaboratively to develop common pacing guidelines and share effective teaching strategies.-Work collaboratively to develop, administer and score common assessments and utilize the results to provide targeted support to students not meeting stated proficiency performance standards.-Work collaboratively to design and implement effective systems of intervention that provide struggling students with additional time and support on each skill in which a deficiency is present.In order to accomplish all of this, schools have revamped their master scheduling practices to ensure teachers are provided with time for collaboration and that uninterrupted instructional blocks are established for both new instruction and targeted intervention blocks which are built into the structure of the regular school day. The positive result these practices have held on student learning has been truly profound.District 54 is committed to continued implementation of the Professional Learning Communities at Work model. Our teachers have been empowered by embedding collaborative processes into the routines of the school day and truly utilize data to differentiate their instructional practice and meet the specific needs of each student with whom they work. In addition, we continue to refine our systems at each of our sites and set new, rigorous school improvement goals for the future. As a result of this work, 1500 more students in District 54 met state academic standards in 2009 than did in 2005. This translates to 1500 more students experiencing measurable degrees of academic success that will prepare them for future life success. We believe in our processes and know that there is still more we can accomplish together. Today, the entire District 54 learning community takes great pride in living up to our stated mission of Ensuring Student Success.