Tom Hernandez

Director of Communications

  (630) 513-2593

April 13, 2006

Education Partners, good evening.

Several items of interest:

Finally, as high school juniors prepare for the Prairie State Achievement Exam later this month, please see Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Erwin’s new Community Column, pasted below.

Have a wonderful weekend.
Tom Hernandez
Director of Communications


Dr. Erwin’s Community Column for April 2006

It seems that there five seasons when it comes to public education – spring, summer, fall, winter, and testing.

That’s an easy, albeit amusing and slightly overstated, conclusion to draw what with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the state tests on which NCLB relies, the ACT, SAT, and assorted local assessments, all being administered this time of year.

While the thought is valid, it misses the point a bit.

Our students and all students do take what might seem like a lot of tests. But the problem isn’t so much with the tests or even the amount of testing, as it is with the perception of the value and application of the data the tests produce.

As our high school juniors prepare to take the Prairie State Achievement Exam later this month – the state standardized assessment that incorporates the ACT college entrance exam – it is important to remember why we give and take tests at all.

Our community charged District 303 with five very important goals when it created our Vision Statement in 2004.

Those goals aren’t numbered or prioritized. Still, it is fair to say that many people, if not most, would put improved academic achievement and personal growth for ALL of our students at the top of their list.

Simply put, we test our students to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to meet our community’s expectations of academic improvement and personal growth.

Obviously there are “bigger picture” issues as well. We have to comply with the NCLB act, and doing so requires us to give the state’s standardized assessments – the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, and the aforementioned Prairie State.

Many of the more challenging provisions of the NCLB act have moved from the “getting ready to do” phase to the “must be accomplished” phase.

Still our greatest challenge is to ensure that everything we do is geared toward improving learning for each of our students. A comprehensive system of assessment is necessary to meet that vital objective.

A solid battery of testing is the only way to know if, and to what extent, our curriculum is giving our children what they need to grow academically and personally.

Testing is not, or at least should not be about punishment. A comprehensive assessment program should always be used to analyze, not criticize. It is a way to make the education system better, not worse.

District 303 has earned a rightfully and proudly reputation for excellence at every level. The community expects that excellence to continue.

Our job as educators is to do everything we can, with the resources available to us, to meet our community’s expectations.

That is a “test” that we are only too happy to take, on behalf of ALL of our students.

Dr. Barbara F. Erwin
Superintendent of Schools
Community Unit School District 303