August 2019 Update

With the first phase of the math program review completed, there are numerous changes in place to improve classroom instruction this year, while a deeper look at instructional materials and practices continues.

Five months of intensive effort is reflected in classroom teaching practices as the new school year begins, said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer.

Forty-one teachers working alongside the junior high math instructional specialist Nikki Penherski, external math consultant Kristen Clegg and NBJH Principal Dr. Scott Meek, updated the math pacing calendars, revised assessments, prepared communication to parents and planned for additional layers of support for students in the 2019-20 school year.

In addition, 13 professional development sessions were conducted for teachers and assistants over the summer.

Highlights of Phase 1 for K-5 include:

·      Parents will receive a letter at the beginning of each math unit to communicate topics being covered.

·      A home practice policy and differentiated home practice assignments will be implemented uniformly across grades K-5.

·      In addition to 60 minutes of math instruction daily, teachers will use  “Number Talks,” a math activity to develop students’ flexibility and fluency with computational strategies.

Nikkie Penherski, Math Instructional Specialist, work with students

Nikki Penherski, Junior High Math Instructional Specialist, works with 7th grade students alongside math teacher Karee Schwartz.
Ms. Penherski will spend most of her time working with students and teachers in the classroom to enhance instruction. Her position was created as part of the Phase 1 Math program review.

Highlights of Phase 1 for Grades 6-8

·      Beginning of the year pre-assessments were created to help teachers identify any gaps in students’ understanding of concepts. The assessments are designed to inform instruction and are not graded.

·      Supports for eighth-graders that were offered this past spring will now be offered throughout the school year. Additional math X-block sessions will provide support for students. Junior high students will also have access to ALEKS, an online math resource that students can use to reinforce math learning. 

·      The NBJH math instructional specialist is working with junior high teachers in the classroom, offering math tutoring for students during X-block, and assisting with the ongoing work of the math program review. 

Read the full Math Program Review August Report here.


As these changes are implemented, the Math Committee will dive into Phase 2 of the program review this school year. Phase 2 will start with teacher and parent surveys in September. Work will continue throughout the fall and winter to evaluate the number of instructional math minutes at the junior high, starting with a study of instructional minute allocation at comparable junior highs in the area. Instructional materials, staff allocation and assignments, and instructional expectations in preparing students for both the Illinois Assessment of Readiness and the PSAT 8/9 (for eighth grade) will be reviewed, and new instructional materials will be selected for the next school year.


Some of the measures of improvement that the district will be monitoring include improvement in the Illinois Assessment of Readiness scores, the placements of students in high school math, a continuation of a high number of students in the top two quintiles and fewer in the lowest two quintiles on the NWEA assessment.

Board Briefs
Read the full report of board business in the August edition of Board Briefs.