New program allows District 211 students to track goals, success
A test group has given positive reviews to a new online tool that lets Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 students set goals and measure progress on their journey to college and careers.
The district designed the Student Readiness Plan from priorities established in its two-year-old strategic plan, then hired Des Plaines-based Americaneagle.com to build it.
Tested by a select group of students, faculty and parents earlier this year, it will be offered to all this fall.
On the website, students track their progress on five components of readiness: Academic, College and Career Exploration, Global Competitive Skills, Student Involvement and Wellness.
The program has been funded through a pair of successive two-year grants from The Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based organization that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility.
On Wednesday, District 211 Superintendent Dan Cates introduced a public demonstration of the new program by the students, staff and parents who've tested it over the past six months.
"Today's students face many challenges throughout their school years," Cates said. "And the challenges they will experience after they graduate will likely only increase. Our community members were resoundingly clear: Please get our students ready for the roles and challenges they will need to fulfill once they leave the supportive environment of high school."
Last November, about 100 freshmen at each of the district's five schools, as well as a smaller number of students in the upper grades, began using the website.
Those who attended Wednesday's demonstration said they'd found the tool a useful support, rather than an additional source of school pressure, as they pursued their goals.
Even as a freshman, Charles Zielinski of Schaumburg High School recognized enough about his likes and dislikes to list environmental scientist, reptile and amphibian scientist, and author as his possible career goals in the online tool. And he can change them in the plan as often as he likes.
Fellow Schaumburg High School sophomore Regina Guzman is a member of the Harper Promise program to earn free tuition to the Palatine community college through academic achievement and community service. The Student Readiness Plan allows her to track her progress toward that goal, as well as access volunteer opportunities.
Mark Kovack, associate superintendent for student services. said the achievement of District 211 students is the primary goal of the program. But if the program serves as an example to school leaders elsewhere, he would see it as a welcome benefit.
"Anything we can do to help students globally is a good thing," Kovack said.