New assessment system is ‘a huge culture shift’

  • Written by Jessie Molloy

  The Community High School District 218 school board approved the 2013 tax levy at its meeting Dec. 16 and discussed the most recent results of its new district wide assessment system.
  With the first semester drawing to a close, the board’s director of data, assessment, and evaluation, Kathleen Gavin, gave a lengthy report on the results of the common unit assessment system.
  Although the system has been put in place gradually for the past four years, and district-wide semester finals have been in use since 2008, this is the first school year during which it has been fully implemented across all grade levels and subject areas. The common assessment system goes hand in hand with the district’s new grading policy and has been “a huge culture shift,” according to Gavin.
  The new system was designed to equalize the learning of students at all three district schools by having the teachers and curriculum directors collaborate on universal tests for use in each unit of the class. The new tests are a mix of multiple-choice and written exams which test both student knowledge and more practical applications of the material. Under the new grading system these tests represent 52 percent of students’ semester grades. An additional 20 percent of the grades is represented by the semester final, with the remaining 23 percent being made up by homework and additional assignments given by each individual teacher.
  This switch in focus by the district to a more unified curriculum was made, according to Gavin, “in anticipation of the switch to the common core standards and PARCC assessment tests [which will be given to freshmen and sophomores to determine No Child Left Behind funding] in Illinois.”
  In her report to the board, Gavin said that some areas are performing significantly better than other across the district. Some of the strongest areas of performance across the district were Honors English and all levels of Algebra, the latter of which she said makes sense. Freshmen math was one of the first subjects to be switched to the system and has had time to work out the problems other subjects are still facing. Despite less than spectacular results in some subject areas, Gavin was optimistic about the progress the system is making and praised the teachers and curriculum directors for their work creating and implementing the new tests.
  Gavin also said that an advantage of the system was its ability to target trouble areas across the curriculum and at specific schools to determine which topics may need more focus or to be re-taught before moving on. This, she said, will be particularly useful in the math and science curriculums where they have already been used to try uniting the teaching of overlapping pieces of the subject areas such as in physics and algebra.
  On average, each subject has taken four or five common exams so far which had its data analyzed so far. Results of the district finals will further add to the analysis when they come in next semester.
  After the curriculum discussion, District Business Manager Joseph Daley presented the resolution for the new levy which the board approved. The proposed new levy would total $79,607,426. This accounts for $3 million in new property and is 4.9 percent (approximately $3.7 million) higher than last year’s levy of $75,888,873. The fund receiving the largest piece of this increase is the education fund, which will be allotted $59,840,075. This represents a $2.8 million increase over last year’s levy.
  In his report to the board, Daley also said the board’s bond issue for the science wing expansion currently underway at Shepard High School raised $9.7 million dollars. The funds will be immediately sent to the working cash fund then to the construction budget. Although no estimated date of completion was stated at the meeting it was said that the construction at Shepard has been further delayed due to the extreme cold and snowy conditions.

It’s a race to the finish for new MVCC fitness center

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  The new Moraine Valley Community College Health Education and Wellness Center is expected to open in March but it might be a race to the finish to make that happen.
  In the 12 weeks leading up to the opening of the HEWC, college officials are still looking for a health care partner to occupy a portion of the facility. During the December board meeting Wednesday, the college’s board of trustees met privately to reevaluate the cost to lease college property.
  Although a health care partner has yet to be found, the college is expected to stick to the March deadline.
  “We are really pushing the job, and we’re about 84 percent done,” construction manager Rich Martinez said. “We should have the job completed in 12 weeks, and we have crews working around the clock to get the job finished on time.”
  Replacing Moraine Valley’s old health center has been on the to-do list since 1986. In October 2011, the college approved the building of a new $35 million health, education and fitness center.
  The contact for the new building was awarded to Power Construction.
  During the planning process, Moraine officials completed a market analysis to come up with a fair and competitive price based on the membership fees of similar facilities. The center is free for full-time students taking a minimum of 11 credit hours.
  “We want to market the new Health Education and Wellness Center to the community and especially the students,” said Mike Schneider, director of campus relations. “We completed a market analysis to come up with competitive pricing that is lower than that of competitive health centers in the area, and we will offer various discounts for part-time students, faculty and staff.”
  Monthly fees are $48 for part-time students, $26 for college employees, $34 for seniors or military and $49 for community members. The college has provided incentives for early enrollment and plans to offer aerobics and other fitness classes.
  In an effort to provide Moraine students with work experience, the college has hired and trained most of its 100 student staff members.
  “Since we believe in developing students for the professional world, we will have beyond 100 fully trained student employees who will be the face of the facility,” Schneider said.

Retro Reporter 12-26-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Retro Reporter Art

Reporter editorial writer in the Christmas spirit
50 years ago
From the Dec. 26, 1963 edition
  The story: Voters said no to a $750,000 bond issue for Ridgeland Elementary School District 122 for 21 new classroom was defeated for a sixth straight time — this time by just 11 votes.
  The quote: “Did you turn to this column for advice today? For righteous wrath and indignation? For the pleasure of seeing somebody else get scolded? You don’t get it. It’s Christmas and we’re all happy.” — the start of this edition’s editorial.
  Fun fact: Glen Burnett of Palos Hills turned 12 on Christmas. According to the investigative reporting of Rose Urquiza in her Palos Hills Personals column, Burnett got cake, two parties and extra presents under the tree.

Hoarder’s house catches fire while he’s in hospital
25 years ago
From the Dec. 29, 1988 edition
  The story: Oak Lawn police removed a 77-year-old man from his home after he was hiding under a pile of garbage. The house contained garbage, human excrement and 25 cats. Two days later, while the man was in a hospital, his house caught on fire and had to be demolished.
  The quote: “Even the Lionel Barrymore character [Mr. Potter] wouldn’t have been so vicious as to do that to us,’’ — Reporter columnist Michael M. Bates about the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” being shown 14 times on TV on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  Fun fact: The Sabre Room of Hickory Hills offered a $37.50 New Year’s Eve dinner with a New York strip steak, three cocktails, hats, horns and favors, threes bands, two DJs, a “fabulous floor show” and sales tax.

Coach questions society after 0-8 start
10 years ago
From the Dec. 25, 2003 edition
  The story: A Hickory Hills mother was in serious condition after being burned severely in a fire at her home. Three of her four children were also treated for burns.
  The quote: “I said [to the team] that it’s not fair that society judges by wins and losses. It’s a shame because what we’ve gone through so far, the kids have gotten a lot of it.” — First-year Stagg boys basketball coach Jon Daniels on winning his first game after the team went 0-8.
  Fun fact: Jack & Pats in Chicago Ridge offered fancy boneless Mickleberry hams for $2.49 per pound just in time for Christmas.

Hundreds have a Hull of a time at Kenwood

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


FRONT-COLOR-3-col-HULL  Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull spent four hours at Kenwood Liquors in Oak Lawn Dec. 18 signing autographs, posing for photos and talking with fans. Proceeds from his appearance went to the Park Lawn Residential Center. Park Lawn’s Margaret Propoegil and Mudiwa Judalani pose with Hull.   A big group of Park Lawn representatives wanted their picture with Hull and he obliged but first wanted photos with the females in the group. “I like the girls better!” he bellowed with a hearty laugh as the photo was shot. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
 Those standing in the cold outside of Kenwood Liquors in Oak Lawn Dec. 18 for hours to meet Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull can blame Hull himself for prolonging things.

  Hull, who turns 75 on Jan. 3, didn’t just sign items and move on to the next fan. He talked with some at length. He posed for photos. He seemed to enjoy the fact that after all these years, people still love the man they call the Golden Jet.
  “I’m here to see the legend,’’ said Oak Lawn’s Bill Carey, who had Hull sign his Blackhawks hat. “I never met him before. I was a little kids when he played but I love hockey and it’s great to get to meet him.’’
  Hull’s NHL career spanned from 1954 through 1980. He played 15 years with the Blackhawks. He finished with 610 goals and 560 assists.
  Donations were accepted for his signature and proceeds went to the Park Lawn Residential Center.
  Hull was the third legendary Chicago sports figure Page-4-3-col-Blackhawk-babyNicole Malozzi of Tinley Park introduced her four-month-old daughter Madelyn to Bobby Hull as “the Blackhawks’ youngest fan.’’ Photo by Jeff appear in the area in recent weeks. Earlier in the month, former Bears tight end and coach Mike Ditka and Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton appeared during the grand opening week of Binny’s Beverage Depot in Evergreen Park.


‘The right thing to do’ is how this Worth scout views project to help poor children

  • Written by Bob Rakow

p1-color-1-col-and-p-3-2-colWorth’s David Riley poses with some of the donated presents in his living room. Submitted photo.  Christmas was a joyous time of year for more than 200 inner-city children thanks to Worth resident David Riley.
  Riley, 18, collected toys for children of all ages during the holiday season, a project he undertook to become an Eagle Scout. The Shepard High School senior has not achieved the rank of Eagle Scout—a Boy Scout review board has yet to make that determination—but the project was about more than earning the Scouts highest rank, he said.
  “It seemed like the right thing to do,” Riley said.
  Riley’s living room was packed with the toys that he along with friends, scout leaders and family collected over a two-week period. His sister, Emily, a Shepard freshman, created the poster to promote the toy drive and decorated the collection boxes.
  The boxes were placed in several Worth businesses, and residents did the rest by donating toys to children who otherwise would not receive a Christmas gift, Riley said. Worth Mayor Mary Werner helped get the ball rolling by donating 30 toys, he said.
  Riley, who collected twice as many toys as expected, and his family loaded up a van the weekend before Christmas and delivered the presents to Christ the King Lutheran Church in Chicago.
  Church volunteers wrapped and distributed the gifts to the children, who often are more concerned with where their filling their bellies than opening a present, Riley said.
  “The pastor was pretty excited,” said Riley, who wants to study aviation in college.
  Riley’s holiday mission made his mother beam.
  “I’m very proud of him,” said Tina Riley. “He did a lot of hard work.”
  She added that she’s proud of Worth residents, who responded to a good cause during the holiday season.
  Riley has submitted a project report to the Boy Scouts, who will let him know if was sufficient to earn Scouting’s top honor.
  “Now he just has to wait for them to call,” Tina Riley said. “We’re very excited.”
  Riley is no stranger to volunteer work as a long-time Scout.
  A graduate of Worth Elementary School and Worth Junior High School, Riley entered Scouts when he was 6 years old as a Tiger Cub. He designed three fishing derby patches, each which won the patch design contest at the Scout’s annual fishing derby at Tampier Lake. The patches were given to every Scout who entered the derby.
  Riley and Troop 668 have participated in the annual ton of food drive in Worth, Veterans’ ceremonies, visited the veterans’ home in Manteno, painted fire hydrants in Worth, marched in the annual Worth Days Parade and volunteered in the Lucas Berg Ditch cleanup. Riley also enjoys going to Owassippe in Michigan for the annual week long camping trip.
  Riley works as a bus boy at Worth the American Legion and as a merchandiser for a company that provides flowers to Home Depot stores. He currently works at McDonald’s in Oak Lawn.