Administrators, teachers, and students from Proviso East High School presented information on ways to improve the school at a community forum held at Proviso East on Monday, February 11.
The forum, which was sponsored by the Board of Education, included Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, and Ms. Kisha Lang, assistant principal educational services at Proviso East, discussing the steps the school is taking to raise student achievement on state tests and other areas. With the programs in place, Mr. Valente said that despite the low performance of the school on the ACT/PSAE, he felt encouraged because many students were close to being considered proficient.
"We have a lot of students who are just below the threshold we need to beat," he said.
Mr. Valente said that using the school’s "Rising Star" tool, administrators and faculty look at 104 indicators impacting areas including student achievement, school culture, and parent and community involvement. Instruction also is evaluated, and there is a focus on "rigor, relevance, and relationship" in every classroom, along with high levels of student engagement.
"It’s not sitting here listening," he said. "We want kids doing in the classroom."
Mr. Valente also said that there are fewer incidents involving student discipline than at the same point last year. He credited the school’s character education program as well as partnerships with area police with improving the school climate.
Ms. Lang said that the school is focusing on improving the test scores as well. Students who are struggling on the tests are working with teachers to improve their test-taking skills. They also are receiving free tutoring from students in the school’s National Honor Society to help them achieve the goal of "20 and 5 – We Will Arrive," with the objective for the school’s students to get a minimum of 20 of 36 on the ACT and 5 of 7 on the second-day PSAE.
"We’re trying to have our students become better test takers," Ms. Lang said. "We’re trying to make it comfortable for our students to take the test."
Parents attending the forum also had an opportunity to ask questions of Proviso East’s school improvement team forum.
Questions ranged from raising the school’s graduation rate to improving school climate. Mr. Valente said that incentives of items such as extra tickets for graduation are being offered to students to encourage them to take the ACT/PSAE seriously and improve safety at the school, with rewards for improved discipline.
"Why not?" Mr. Valente said. "They deserve it. If you do what is expected, you get rewarded privileges."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that effort from students was the key to improving the school.
"You may not always improve, but you do have to try," she said. "I’ve always said that if they try, they can do it. Our students are bright. Our students are capable."
The Board of Education will host an additional meeting addressing school improvement on Monday, February 25, at Proviso Math and Science Academy, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.