Education

Education and learning

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Update, Friday 6:22 pm: Contract negotiations continue between striking Rock Valley College faculty members and the school's bargaining representative. They've been negotiating all day.

Classes are canceled for a second day at Rock Valley College because of a faculty strike. Now the college’s president is making a plea for them to return to work.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

  Striking union faculty members at Rock Valley College meet this morning to discuss the latest offer from the college’s board of directors. The sticking point? How much the 160 RVC faculty members will pay for health care. Joe Perkoski is the attorney representing the school. He says “What we’re simply trying to do is get employees to pay a little more toward that. At the same time, we are providing a very generous salary offer.”

'Disappointing' PARCC Test Scores From Illinois Students

Sep 16, 2015
Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The latest statewide tests results show that a vast majority of Illinois high school students are not meeting Common Core standards.

It was revealed today about 37 percent of students passed the Language Arts section. Fewer than 30 percent passed the math portion.

Results are based on the PARCC test, which is different from the old ISAT assessment.

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith is working to improve lower-than-average test scores.

U.S. Department of Education Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org

Illinois students will get a hint about how they scored on the PARCC test — the standardized test based on the Common Core — when statewide results are announced today. State officials have warned that scores will be lower than with previous tests. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it’s time for an honest assessment.

“It’s so important that we tell the truth to parents and to students about are they on track to be successful in college or not,” Duncan says. "And many states, including Illinois, dummy down those standards to make politicians look good.”  

Whooping Cough Case Identified At Auburn High School

Sep 15, 2015

Pertussis, or whooping cough, has made its presence into the Rockford public school district.

Last Friday, a letter was sent out regarding an Auburn High School student with a confirmed case of pertussis.

Families of West View Elementary and West Middle School also received letters about probable cases that have been reported.

Pertussis is easily mistaken as a bad cold, but its symptoms are more severe and can last up to 100 days.

NIU Enrollment Down, Retention Up

Sep 9, 2015
NIU

NIU’s enrollment has slightly declined this fall, while the university says retention and quality of students have increased. The university’s official 10-day count showed enrollment at 20,130 students. It represents the smallest dip in several years. 

Officials say NIU’s efforts to attract higher achieving students has paid off, as class rank, grade point average, and ACT scores have risen.

Eric Weldy is in charge of enrollment management at NIU. He spoke at a town hall meeting last week, telling staff there is fierce competition for students.

University of Wisconsin System

A University of Wisconsin-Madison fundraising drive that began last fall with a $100 million pledge has generated about $250 million.

Alumni John and Tashia Morgridge pledged last November to match up to $100 million in donations to fund endowments for faculty. UW officials announced Tuesday that more than 1,000 donors have responded with $125 million and the Morgridges have agreed to match that figure.

The Morgridges' donation is the largest in school history.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University leaders held a town hall meeting with employees yesterday to outline budget challenges. NIU President Doug Baker and top administrators talked about efforts to bring in more students and streamlining operations. They also answered questions about whether people will lose jobs under the state’s budget uncertainties.

New NIU Diversity Officer Wants To Support All Aspects

Aug 31, 2015
NIU.EDU

For the first time, Northern Illinois University has a diversity officer to help foster community and campus relations.

Vernese Edghill-Walden has experience; her dedication to the inclusion of students of diverse backgrounds makes her job an important one.

“I would like to make sure that the work that we’re doing with diversity inclusion aligns with the overall strategic plan,” she said.

Edghill-Walden says her job is to hear all the concerns and help create the desired outcome.  

Beloit College

It's that time again: A new crop of young people is entering colleges and universities around the world.

And, just as it has every summer since 1998, Beloit College is issuing its "Mindset List" to help define the factors that shaped those new freshmen -- or "first-years" or "freshies" or whatever new term may be applied by a given institution.

A researcher on national education issues came to central Illinois this week to give teachers a back-to-school pep talk and to give them ideas on how to improve kids' learning.

    

John Draper, a former middle school teacher and principal, works for the National School Public Relations Association. It's his job to tout neighborhood schools, and he did plenty of that in his presentation to Macon County teachers this week. 

N'Jema McIntyre / WNIJ

Scholars from Ecuador are wrapping up a seven month stay at Northern Illinois University. 

The 37 teachers came to the United States to study English.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is pushing the importance of higher standards for education. He is investing in teachers to build a better education system in his country. And that means sending teachers to the U.S.

“You have the best high education system in the world. So we have to learn a lot for the state in this subject.”

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

llinois’ truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. But it might be having the opposite effect.

  Since 2003, Illinois parents have banked on the law that guarantees their kids’ tuition rate  will remain at the same rate for at least four years. James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says that allows families to plan their finances, making the state’s public universities an attractive option. But think about it:

Illinois ranks tenth among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for the quality of its public school systems, according to a new study.

The state ranked first in the percentage of high school graduates who completed the ACT and second in the average SAT score, personal-finance website WalletHub reported. It also ranked above average – in 23rd place – in the dropout rate.

Illinois was just below average in bullying incidents, placing 26th, and in school safety, ranked at 27th. The statewide pupil-teacher ratio earned a ranking of 30th.

Wheaton College will stop providing any health insurance for students to avoid complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The move announced earlier this month takes effect Friday. It affects about 700 students, a quarter of the college’s student population.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

More than 100 part-time instructors at Kishwaukee College are joining the same union as their full-time counterparts.  The Illinois Labor Relations Board has certified that a majority of the college’s adjunct faculty want to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.  

Education Bill Signals New Funding Strategy

Jun 25, 2015
WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year.

Rauner, a Republican, says he still wants to send even more money to schools. At the same time, he is already taking steps to cut other state services --- including a program that helps working, low-income families pay for daycare.

illinois.edu

As the cost of going to college continues to rise, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to cut higher education funding by more than 30 percent.

One program already affected by cuts – and likely to be cut even more – is the state's Monetary Award Program for low-income students, known as the MAP grant.

Jennifer Delaney, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Illinois flagship campus, told lawmakers last week that MAP grants now are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

DeKalb Elementary Principal Fired For Religious Gifts, Misconduct

Jun 16, 2015
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A DeKalb elementary school principal was fired Monday after the school board charged her with violating board policies regarding religious materials.

After a day-long closed meeting, the DeKalb School Board voted to dismiss Shahran Spears as principal of Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School. Dozens of supporters showed up at district headquarters on her behalf: 20 of them were allowed one minute to speak to the board.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Set To Make Deep Higher Ed Cuts

Jun 1, 2015
Wikipedia

As Illinois lawmakers deal with the final details of a state budget, Wisconsin’s legislature is poised to make deep cuts in university spending. 

Wisconsin’s legislative budget-writing committee has voted to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million.  It also moved to eliminate university tenure in state law in an attempt to save Wisconsin some money.

WUIS

The PARCC test, associated with the Common Core, will be somewhat shorter next year. 

Illinois was one of 11 states to administer the test this year, and parents complained it was too long. It would take up to 10 hours and spread across two sessions -- one in March, another in May.

The PARCC consortium voted this week to reduce the test by about an hour and a half and consolidate it into one session instead of two.

Anne Morris, a test coordinator for a Springfield school district, says that’s what she's been hoping to hear.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Legislation that would temper the way schools discipline students passed the Illinois House and Senate and now awaits the governor’s approval.

Suspensions and expulsions could be used only as a last resort.

Sarah Johnson, one of the youth leaders of the group, said the plan is designed to change the culture of schools.

“Our education system should be wanting us to stay in school and right now they’re pushing us out of school. So the environment that we’re in, that our young people are in right now, is not an environment of learning. It’s an environment of push-out."

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois budget crisis is costing low-income public schools some of the federal money intended to help them compete with wealthier schools. That’s the finding of a report published this weekend by the Rockford Register Star. Reporter Corina Curry found that state lawmakers are diverting money from a program known as “Title One” and putting it toward teacher pension debt. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens spoke with Curry about her research.

WNIJ/Victor Yehling

“In so many ways, what is old is now new again. That really reflects the case of this unique space.”

That’s how Rockford University President Robert Head addressed the group gathered Friday in the restored snack bar area of the remodeled Blanche Walker Burpee Center on the Rockford Campus.

Built in 1963 as then-Rockford College moved from its location just south of downtown, the building was intended to be a center of student activity.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

More than 30 Illinois school officials traveled to Springfield yesterday to tell how budget cuts are affecting their districts. 

These days, it seems like every agency in Illinois is complaining about cutbacks. Public school officials, however, are seasoned veterans, having seen the state slash their funding repeatedly over the past few years.

Now, they argue how the pain is distributed. 

A plan that would limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions is moving through the Illinois legislature. 

The measure would end zero-tolerance policies and the practice of charging fees for minor infractions and emphasize in-house measures over expulsions.

A Chicago youth group pushed the changes for the past two years. Along the way, they dropped a component that sought to limit offenses warranting arrests on campus.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would help high school students know what kind of college credit to expect for their advanced placement test scores.

High school students taking AP exams know they have to score at least a three on a five-point scale to pass, but they don't know which Illinois universities will give them credit for that score.

A score of three on a Biology test might earn college credit at Western Illinois University, for example, but not at Illinois State. Same goes for all 34 AP tests across all Illinois universities.  

Bogenberger Family Photo

Five former Northern Illinois University students are expected to make plea deals today in the hazing death of a fellow student. 

 

In November 2012, NIU Freshman David Bogenberger died after a night of heavy drinking in Pi Kappa Alpha’s fraternity house in DeKalb. The 19 year old’s heart stopped…his blood alcohol level was .40, five times the legal limit.

 

Biden Urges Illini Men To 'Show Courage'

Apr 24, 2015
@VP on Twitter

Vice President Joe Biden told students on the University of Illinois Urbana campus Thursday that preventing sexual assault is a shared responsibility.

Biden used an emotional, almost evangelical tone to urge about 1,500 students to "show courage" and “be the man you were raised to be.”

"By the way gentlemen, silence is a form of approval. Inaction is a form of cowardice," he said. "Speaking up takes courage." 

The crowd cheered for the Vice President in the gym of one of the campus' recreation centers.

Biden voiced anger at those who commit sexual assault.

Former Oakland California school superintendent Anthony “Tony” Smith has been selected as the new Illinois Superintendent of Education.

The Illinois State Board of Education made the change unanimously at Wednesday’s meeting, replacing current Superintendent Christopher Koch, effective May 1.

Koch, whose contract expired earlier this year, remained on the job at the request of the state board. One of the longest serving state superintendents in the nation, he has been in the post since December 2006 and has overseen changes to testing and teacher evaluations.

Pages