- Our Sites
- The News-Gazette
- NewsTalk 1400 WDWS-AM
- Lite Rock 97.5 WHMS
- 107.9 WKIO
- Community News
By MATT DANIELS
Rantoul Press assistant editor
Increasing student achievement is at the top of the priority list for Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio and Rantoul City Schools Superintendent Michelle Ramage during 2013 after subpar test scores in 2012.
Both districts will implement the new teacher evaluation system along with integrating new Common Core state standards into their curriculum, steps they hope will help improve student achievement.
Amerio said he would like all teachers at RTHS to receive an “excellent” or “proficient” rating under the new teacher evaluation system, which also features “needs improvement” and “unsatisfactory.”
Ramage said the RCS district will also work on peer review with its teachers, which involves teachers evaluating teachers.
“It’s a whole new concept,” Ramage said. “I can tell you that it has been very well-received by our teachers’ association. That makes the difference. They have been on board and have gone to some trainings. It’s a very positive thing, but it could be very stressful and intimidating. That will come out slowly as well.”
Amerio said RTHS had six administrators complete the required 40-50 hours of training last summer in order to be a qualified evaluator.
“Since then, the administration has provided in-depth professional development opportunities for our teachers on the new evaluation system,” Amerio said. “The students have to be a main priority. With the changing expectations of students coming out of high school, it is important for us to focus on student achievement and make sure that our students are well prepared when they leave Rantoul Township High School.”
Ramage said the Common Core standards in reading and writing were started in the district last year, with math starting last week and science and social studies beginning in the near future.
“We are anxious to get into science and social studies,” Ramage said. “The junior high teachers are chomping at the bit when that rolls out, although they are loving the fact that our emphasis on informational texts benefits them greatly. At the junior high, the social studies and science people communicate with the language arts people. They all know what the topic is they’re working on.”
Both the RTHS and RCS districts are collaborating together on the Common Core standards, along with several other districts that feed into RTHS. Amerio said the district is also working with the University of Illinois to bring in professional development for the math department.
Ramage said she would like to see RCS have a bigger presence in Rantoul. She hopes to expand the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system in each of the district’s five schools along with taking it out into the community more.
“I do think it’s something we need to do, and it could be something I work on this summer where I get it out to the chamber of commerce and get it out to businesses,” Ramage said. “It’s just to give them an avenue to recognize students in the community who are behaving appropriately and acting right. This is a typical step in PBIS is to bring that to the community.”
Ramage said plans are also in place to expand the standards-based report cards throughout the district, possibly up to third grade. Those report cards — which will not have typical letter grades like A, B, C, D and F — would have a scale to rate applicable skills on.
Managing each district’s budgets in the face of ever-increasing cuts to general state aid and lowered property values in Rantoul is another challenge both districts will face in 2013. RTHS is running a deficit budget this school year, and RCS anticipates potential personnel cuts might have to be made later this year because of decreased revenue.
“Right behind students, our next most important stakeholder group is the community,” Amerio said. “The board has been entrusted by the community to spend its resources wisely. They have been able to do that successfully for many years, and (they) are looking forward to continue to do that for many more years.”