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D-427 to get early glimpse of AYP results

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore School District 427 board will get a preview today of what it should expect when the state releases Adequate Yearly Progress numbers this month.

Superintendent Kathy Countryman and Kristine Webster, director of curriculum, will share some of the district’s AYP forecast with board members as schools around the state aim to have 92.5 percent of their students meet or exceed the proficiency level on standardized reading and math tests.

The lofty goal will be difficult to attain, as only 19 of 47 DeKalb County public schools met the lesser AYP benchmark of 85 percent last year.

Statewide, 65 percent of schools failed to meet the requirement last year.

Countryman said the numbers have bright spots, but the report also showed areas that need improvement.

She said the No Child Left Behind model has created positive changes and important data, but the requirements are becoming harder to reach as they escalate to 100 percent of student proficiency by 2014.

“Anytime you get data back like this, it can help you improve instruction and see what resources you need,” she said. “But there are some unrealistic goals in some cases.”

Illinois is not one of the 26 states that have received waivers from some of the federal law as Congress waits to reform No Child Left Behind. States have to show a model of teacher evaluation, need-based financial assistance and college and career preparation for students before receiving a waiver.

The full AYP report for all schools is expected to be released Oct. 31.

Board members also will hear the district’s plan for a new “academy” course aimed at exposing high school seniors to the various careers in agriculture.

In an attempt to capitalize on the success of the Business Academy started last year, Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson said he wanted to launch a similar program for seniors interested in agricultural

The “academy” courses offer seniors a chance for college credit at Kishwaukee College, as well as hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

The goal, Carlson said, is to give seniors a better idea of what they want to do before they spend tens of thousands on a college education without a direction.

“When students think about agriculture, they think about farmers, but there are so many other careers involved in that,” Carlson said. “We want to give them that exposure so they have a better idea of where they want to go careerwise.”

Carlson said he hopes to start a manufacturing and health care academy in the future.

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