I have read with interest the recent letters to the editor. Much is being made about the quality of education that students receive in the Dixon Public Schools, and questions are being asked about the priorities of the current board of education.
As superintendent of the Dixon School District, I can state with confidence that the students are receiving a quality education, and they are making academic gains. Also, the Dixon Board of Education has always made the education of its students its highest priority.
As a district, we gather incredible amounts of test data regarding our students. Three times a year, we review the reading and math progress of all of our students in grades 3-10. What we have found is that the Dixon students in those grades meet or exceed the average yearly growth in math when compared to students who have taken the same test nationwide.
Teachers receive the test results on each student within 48 hours and have the ability to adjust their lesson plans to address areas of weakness.
Equally as important, this same assessment tool (Measure of Academic Progress) is used to design curriculum for our top students, allowing teachers to provide challenging learning opportunities and to track the growth of each student.
In Illinois, all high school juniors are required to take the ACT, a college readiness test. The data shows that the Dixon class of 2012’s ACT composite score was above the state average. ACT data also shows that students taking the most common math and science course sequences at Dixon High School – Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry; and Biology, Chemistry and Physics – score, on the average, at least 2 points higher on those portions of the test. Those who have taken the ACT understand that 2 points is very significant.
The students at Dixon Public Schools are taught by highly qualified, dedicated teachers. As a district, we understand that there is still work to be done, and improvement needs to occur. Our goal is that our students do not simply meet the state standards, but exceed them.
Questions have been raised about the school board’s priorities. In the spring of 2011, the board adopted four basic goals:
1) Educational excellence, with student learning as the No. 1 priority.
2) Continuous evaluation and improvement of staff, students and programs.
3) Effective communication, which needs to involve all stakeholders.
4) Fiscal responsibility, which includes the development and management of district facilities, activities and financial resources pursuant to the district mission, which is “to work in cooperation with the community to provide a comprehensive educational program [that] produces well-educated, self-sufficient, and involved citizens.”
While the board’s goals are broad in nature, each school and each teacher has developed specific goals aligned with the board’s that are measurable, attainable, and relevant.
My experience is that the board’s top priority is the education and success of all students, and I am excited about the direction the board has set.
Note to readers – Michael Juenger is superintendent of Dixon Public Schools. People with questions may contact him at the district office, 815-284-7722.