Destination 158 recognizes areas of improvement


Logo courtesy of District 158’s website

By Ashley Reilly

On the night of Nov. 19, dozens of District 158 parents and faculty flooded into the cafeteria for the second Destination 158 event. This session focused on academics, curriculum, and student achievement, highlighting what is being implemented now, what is going to be implemented, and what shortcomings the district recognizes within.

Erika Schlichter, assistant superintendent of Learning and Innovation, took the lead of this event. Using a slideshow presentation, Schlichter first highlighted the innovative programs at Huntley High School, noting that the goal of each and every program at District 158 is to further benefit all our students.

“Making sure that we focus on all students’ needs [is] a complicated business and one we take very seriously,” Schlichter said.

First, the Career and Technical Education Sequences were touched on. This included courses in the areas of Computer Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Applied Technology. Schlichter also spoke about blended learning, competency-based learning, Academies, and Project Lead the Way courses.

Schlichter then explained how the PLTW path has been trickling down from high school to elementary levels. This includes a course all students must take that encourages the exploration of science and engineering practices. By the 2020-2021 school year, each school in District 158 will be home to PLTW courses.

Furthermore, the Dual Language program that resides in District 158 was touched upon. This program holds both students that are home Spanish speakers and randomly selected students who speak English at home. This path puts a student on track for biliteracy and bilingualism.

The achievement of special populations was highlighted as well. It was shown that English learners in D158 are steadily increasing in performance and that Huntley special populations substantially outperform the state results. Despite achievement gaps for sub-groups being smaller than the state average, D158 wishes to eventually close those gaps completely and will continue to work on this goal.

Near the end of the first hour, Schlichter wrapped up her presentation by recognizing where District 158 feels they are falling short. These challenges included continuing to offer diverse programming despite declining enrollment and financial uncertainty, needing the focus of continuous improvement, especially in math, closing achievement gaps for special populations, and keeping pace with rapid change in society.

Attendees were encouraged to fill out a form previously put on their tables with any questions they had. The form stated that questions will be answered by a Destination 158 representative.

The last hour of the event encouraged attendees to engage with those at their table and fill out a worksheet with three main tasks: recognizing the district’s greatest strengths and opportunities for growth, defining student success, and writing up to five “priority” or goal statements.

Attendees commonly said that the greatest strengths were the opportunities given at the high school level, but they also felt a weakness would be the lack of attention to the middle and elementary levels.

“We want to focus on the young years, the K-2,” a parent said. “Really focus on spelling, reading, and math.”

Many goals were shared for the district, the most common one being to bring young students back to the basics. One parent commented on how their student does not know how to spell since spelling tests were removed from the classroom.

Overall, the session was highly informative and engaging. Those at the meeting were clearly valued and their opinions recognized.

Destination 158 again proved to be a successful event that connects the administration to the faculty and parent population.