Yorkville schools tout blended online learning

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

Yorkville student performance on the most recent Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test. (Courtesy of Yorkville CUSD 115)

Parents also ask about safety at town hall

Yorkville School District administrators came together Feb. 7 to talk with residents about academic success, financial concerns, school safety issues and other topics during their annual State of the District address.

Superintendent Tim Shimp and other district administrators spent about 45 minutes highlighting key components of the district’s three-year strategic plan before opening the event up to questions from the public.

“We have had a great deal to be proud of, and we’ve also had some challenges,” Shimp said. “But, I can’t say enough about what amazing staff we have in Yorkville schools. We asked a lot of them in the last few years with our strategic plan, and they worked really, really hard.”

Shimp discussed several successes the district has accomplished over the last year, including reaching a four-year negotiated contract with staff, raising composite ACT scores, and increasing student access to technology.

Yorkville School District Superintendent Tim Shimp

“We’re trying as an institution to keep up with the technological world these kids are in,” Shimp said.

As a result, the district is increasing its blended course options and has provided more than 2,700 students in grades four and 7-12 with iPad devices. Blended courses allow students to receive in-person and online instruction, and have become an integral part of D115 curriculum.

The district has also changed its learning and grading plan this school year, placing its focus on the “mastery of learning philosophy. This philosophy means that learning is a process and allows students to retake assessments if they don’t master the subject the first time around.

The plan allows the separation between academic behavior versus academic achievement, said Shimp.

Academics weren’t the only focus of the evening. Residents wanted to know what the district is doing to keep students safe (physically and emotionally) and whether or not classroom sizes will continue to grow.

Administrators stressed that school safety and emotional well-being were at the core of the district’s mission. A new program, called Second Step, has been implemented in schools, and addresses this issues with students.

Social and emotional lessons are given at least once a week to students in grades K-8, and students also go through an evaluation process to gauge their emotional safety and risks.

Counselors and social workers are trained by outside experts in effective risk and safety assessments, principals and lunch aids are trained in Second Step, and outreach between schools and parents has increased.

The district is also enhancing its security procedures and has put together a committee to address these issues. The committee is getting ready to bring forward a new plan to align with ever-changing security risks and hazards.

As far as classroom sized were concerned, it comes as no surprise that Yorkville is poised for growth. There are about 1,500 properties in Yorkville that are developed infra structurally and waiting for homes to be built.

This means more students entering a district that already sees 2 percent yearly growth. Shimp said that in the short-term class sizes might go up, but the district is working on a long-term plan to accommodate the growth.


Yorkville schools tout blended online learning–