Mitchem: 2012 Kindergarten Will Set Benchmark for District

Valley View School District 365U officials discussed changes for the second year of the district's "New View."

Valley View School District 365U will hold a school board meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at its Administrative Center at 755 Dalhart Ave. in Romeoville. 

has touted itself as "excellent," Superintendent Jim Mitchem told reporters Friday, while its students' results were less than. 

No longer, Mitchem said. 

"We will no longer use excuses or socioeconomics, race, home life, or any other factor we've been able to use to say it's not our fault that students don't learn," he said. "We've simply eradicated that perception from the culture of our district." 

The district pointed to student gains from the first year of Mitchem's "New View" program, both in the classroom and in test scores from 2011. Those gains will continue, officials said. 

Valley View's first all-day kindergarten class will set a benchmark for future student achievement, Mitchem said. 

"They will indicate we are achieving the same levels as the highest-performing districts, despite our demographics," he said. 

At the same time, "it's a moral imperative," officials said, to meet the first through twelfth graders where they are and get them to the district's new standards. 

Any course with curriculum not at grade-level has been eliminated. Seventy percent of middle school students will use an online-based supplement called Odyssey instead of attending "career" courses, such as art, music and family sciences.

Depending on their need, middle school students will use Odyssey three to five days a week. The decision to pull students from arts and musics classes . 

"A lot of stuff we're doing is not popular with people," Mitchem said. "It's nonsensical to focus on careers or it be such a significant issue to pull them from courses that will support them in establishing a career when they can't read or do math." 

Officials incorporated Compass Learning’s Odyssey program to "fill the gap" as changes are made to align the district’s reading curriculum with new standards, according to Rachel Kinder, assistant superintendent for curriculum for grades six to 12. 

"It's a necessary evil at this point," Kinder said Friday. 

Kinder said in the spring Odyssey will cost $51,000 per year for the next three years, down from Compass Learning’s original quote of $60,000. 

Hardware and infrastructure improvements needed for the Odyssey program, including 325 computers, 28 laser printers, furniture and electrical infrastructure, were expected to total a maximum of $390,650. Those updates would also be used for other purposes, officials said. 

VVSD Watchdog August 13, 2012 at 02:01 PM
"Any course with curriculum not at grade-level has been eliminated. The 80 percent of district students not meeting or exceeding college and career readiness standards will use an online-based supplement called Odyssey instead of attending "career" courses, such as art, music and family sciences." Good God... 80% failure rate! What is the point of having teachers if the students are logging on to the internet for an education? VVSD staff is not only incompetent, they are now lazy as well. Why do we as a district need a supplemental education system to be successful, when surrounding districts that have "career" courses, such as art, music and family sciences so successful? I loved reading how the Kindergartners are going to set the 'benchmark'. That should buy the board members a few years, so they can ease their way into retirement.
Beth August 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Randy you make several excellent points.....would love the district to answer them!!
charles August 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM
As a teacher in VVSD I take great offense to the statement "VVSD staff is not only incompetent, they are now lazy as well". I have my own personal opinions about Odyssey and the elimination of career courses, but I have NO SAY in what the administration chooses to do.
Sister Mary Elephant August 13, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Here is a simple quiz for our VVSD students. 83% of district 203 students meet or exceed the State of Illinois PSAE assessment and ONLY 42% of BHS students meet or exceed the State of Illinois PSAE assessment. If BHS were to gain 2 points each year on the assessment, how long would it take the VVSD to achieve the same levels as Naperville District 203? A - 5 years, B - 10 Years, C - More than 20 Years, D - After Superintendent Jim Mitchem and most of the VVSD Board are retired. Students not meeting or exceeding college and career readiness standards may use the online calculator at http://www.math.com/students/calculators/source/basic.htm
Sister Mary Elephant August 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Charles - Feel free to use the online calculator as well: http://www.math.com/students/calculators/source/basic.htm
Marie Bolingbrook August 13, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Everyone go to the board meeting tonight (Monday)at 7pm!! Voice your concerns directly to the board.
charles August 13, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I don't want nor do I: need your calculator: I'm neither incompetent nor lazy. My point is that when blanket statements are made about VVSD staff, you are including everyone, not just Administration.
Frances W. Regan August 13, 2012 at 09:19 PM
The answer is A - 5 Years.
Kathy August 13, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I think you should contact a lawyer this policy is discrimitory. The fact that you are a tax payer who supports your child vs the government providing for their needs. Your child just gets what he/she gets vs being able to choose a better quality education at a school with teachers that are able provide an education that at least meets a min. standard. You already know your child is in a failing school!!! What do you have to lose with having them in a school that has to this point proven that the teachers are at least capable of teaching to the test.
charles August 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I believe the correct answer would be B - 10 Years.
charles August 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I believe Frances Regan needs to get a full time job so he/she can do something other than steal people's screen names and make stupid comments pretending to be someone they are not.
Reez August 14, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Whoa here - I have many years of experience in education, and while i'm not working in the district I would say that in my industry there are MANY benefits to supplementing classroom education with online learning. If the teachers ensure that the knowledge, data, information portion of content is in the online learning, then educators can spend the class time conducting knowledge application activities instead of boring lectures. It's the application of knowledge where kids will fail. Teach them to memorize tests is one thing - but class time should be spent applying what they've learned and receiving adequate coaching from teachers, asking questions, etc.
Reez August 14, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I am concerned about Randy's initial comment - there should be a press release so more people in the district know about these "re-assigning" of elementary schools. Don't the parents of Pioneer School have a right to know that people on the free lunch program elsewhere will be given priority entry to their school?
Reez August 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Randy your comment got a number of Pioneer Parents also concerned that they were not informed of this offer to re-allocate students to other schools. In contacting the school, we were advised "to call the district office at (815)886-2700 and ask for Venus Smith who is the Assistant Superintendent" to discuss. I would be very interested in finding out how many schools had not met state requirements and what the plans are to address them. Overcrowding other schools is not the answer.
tom August 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM
When you make these comparisons, you need to include other statistics like LEP, IEP, Low Income, Parental Involvement, Attendance, Mobility, Chronic Truants... Or do you think that none of the above impacts test scores?
Reez August 15, 2012 at 04:32 AM
I found an article on this issue - one is about the re-allocation of students. Turns out there are EIGHT failing elementary schools where families received letters offering an opportunity to transfer to PIONEER. Just how many kids are going to move to Pioneer? http://www.vvsd.org/news/index.php?id=2583
Lettuce August 15, 2012 at 06:32 AM
Reez, if you look at the Odyssey program, you will see that it REPLACES teachers. It does not supplement their instruction. This is one of the major reasons for all the lay-offs.
Lettuce August 15, 2012 at 06:36 AM
The district is not required or expected to notify communities of re-assignment arrangements. It's all required per the NCLB laws. I'm not saying that's right - but that is what they will hide behind. This Board and administration is great at NOT ANSWERING questions put before them. They either "defer" to someone else, tell you that you are not smart enough to understand, divert attention by reminding you they are very busy people, or ignore you completely. Such a fabulous district!
tom August 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Randy, If you go to the Illinois Interactive Report Card website, you should be able to find the data that you're looking for. You will need to search each school by name. Once you're on the page for that school, click on the Performance tab at the top. In that drop down tab, click on ISAT. Once there, in the Grade field, click on Summary and in the Student Group field, click on AYP Sub Groups. You will then get the data for each group. Looking at Wood View Elem, it appears that the Black, IEP and Low Income groups were in the warning section for Reading in 2011. Try this link http://iirc.niu.edu/School.aspx?source=Test_Results&source2=ISAT&schoolID=56099365U262008&level=S Here is the link to Pioneer. http://iirc.niu.edu/School.aspx?source=Test_Results&source2=ISAT&schoolID=56099365U262014&level=S Some of the sub groups may be taught by different teachers and different curriculum. It depends. For example, IEP students may be taught in the Gen Ed classroom while others may be in self-contained classrooms. Good luck in your decision. By the way, this is not exclusive to Valley View. There are 2 schools in Indian Prairie 204 and one in Naperville 203 that failed so those parents have also been given the chance to switch schools.
Reez August 16, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Randy, there are EIGHT failing elementary schools where families received letters offering an opportunity to transfer to Pioneer. Apparently there is so much upset people in the community, James Mitchem is having a town hall meeting at Pioneer Elementary on Thursday the 16th at 7pm to discuss the re-locating of students to PIoneer. I believe the approach will be to sell to the community that this all is a good idea. ? http://www.vvsd.org/news/index.php?id=2583


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