A School to Watch

Springman Middle School has been nationally recognized as a School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.  We were initially designated in 2010 after an intensive application and review process.  We were re-designated in 2013 after again demonstrating that we meet the Forum's criteria for high-performing middle schools.  Here is more information about the Forum, what it means to be a School to Watch, and our programs.

"The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations committed to promoting the academic performance and healthy development of young adolescents.  In order to prepare students to be lifelong learners ready for college, career, and citizenship, the National Forum seeks to make every middle grades school academically excellent, responsive to the developmental needs and interests of young adolescents, and socially equitable.  It is not difficult to find middle-level schools that excel in one of the four areas of high performance. However, it is extremely difficult to find schools that excel in all four." http://www.middlegradesforum.org/

Springman's School to Watch Profile

Academic Excellence

Dedicated and talented teachers provide meaningful learning experiences that are both rigorous and appropriate for middle grades learners.  ● Interdisciplinary teams meet two days a week to discuss curriculum and two days a week to discuss students’ academic and social learning needs.  Once per week, team members meet with their grade-level subject counterpart(s) to discuss curriculum, pacing, essential outcomes, and assessments. The essential outcomes are aligned with state and district standards. ● Every student has time built into the school day for enrichment and remediation.   “X Block” provides a standard time in the day, by grade level, for individualized extension of lessons, small group support, or both. ● Staff members gather reading curriculum-based measurement data for the entire student body three times a year.  This data, along with NWEA Measures of Academic Progress data and teacher observation data is used to provide research-based interventions to students not yet meeting the grade-level targets.  ● District 34 is a member of the North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED).  This joint agreement allows Springman to provide a more intensive program of support for students with significant needs.  As part of the NSSED joint agreement, Springman is able to provide students with services such as vision, hearing, autism, adaptive physical education, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. English Language Learners receive academic support from an ELL teacher at each grade level. Students who are identified as non-proficient readers attend small group lessons with the Reading Specialist three times a week. ● Learners who have been identified, using a district created matrix, as gifted or talented, receive language arts instruction from a Gifted/Enrichment teacher.

Developmental Responsiveness

Each administrator and social worker is assigned to work with two teams in the building.  This approach provides teachers with consultation in handling problems and helps ensure that the school reaches out to students and families. ● Administrators at the middle schools, in conjunction with the PTA, collaborate with high school administrators to provide a daytime and evening parent education meeting, Turning Points.  All Springman parents receive Navigating the Teen Years: A Parent’s Handbook for Raising Healthy Teens (published by the US Dept of Health and Human Services). ● All learners work with a teacher to participate in data-reviews and goal setting around their growth targets using NWEA standardized testing.  ● Approximately two-thirds of the students at Springman lead their own conference to discuss their growth as a learner with their parents and teachers. ●  Over one-third of the student body participates in a music performance group (band, orchestra, or chorus), 100 plus students display their talents in the yearly Variety Show, and the annual school musical typically boasts 150 students in cast and crew. Students take advantage of club offerings and interscholastic sports teams in addition to the year-long intramural program.  ● Social workers are in close contact with families and provide parents with education, reassurance, outside referrals, and other services.  ● The staff utilizes role plays, reader’s theater, individual student response systems, iTouch, Flip cameras, experiments, cooperative learning, literature circles, Socratic seminars, and other developmentally appropriate learning strategies and resources.

Social Equity

Each team of students is a microcosm of the entire school population and is balanced among academic abilities, learning styles, needs, cultures, and genders.  These teams are characterized by stable, close, and mutually respectful relationships.  Student-teacher relationships are further strengthened and built on as 7th graders loop together with their teachers to 8th grade. ● Parents share information about their children through additional surveys and also by writing letters to the principal as their children enter middle school and again when transitioning to 7th grade.  ● Teams gather regularly to host “awards” ceremonies, recognizing subject area “students of the month,” celebrate student birthdays, or pay tribute to other student accomplishments.   The building-wide “Wildcat Cheer” program tells students they are believed in and their talents and citizenship are appreciated. The Character Counts! program has been adopted by all of the schools in the district as well as the community at large. The use of “Project Wisdom” provides students with perspectives from across the nations. ● Child-care, transportation, and financial support is provided to parents to assist and encourage family participation in school activities and meetings. Written communications to parents are translated into native languages for Spanish and Korean speaking families.

Organizational Support

Team leaders meet with the principal once per month to collaborate about strategies to improve the school’s growth as a learning community as well as address any building-level challenges. ● District 34’s supervision and evaluation process is based on growth as an educational professional and is differentiated for career stages in order to provide a continuum for teacher growth.  Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” provides the foundation for supervision by providing common language and defining best professional practice. ● The school and district align professional development with short and long range goals.  Staff members share educational strategies and new ideas to their colleagues within the building while also attending regional/national conferences on differentiation, NWEA MAP testing, Rigor and Relevance, common formative assessments, and other strategies and best practices ● Each department and building in the district assesses its Organizational Health annually.  The purpose of OH is “providing cost-effective, data-based, diagnostic and development strategies for increasing the leadership capacity of leaders and teams throughout the organization in order to improve productivity” (www.organizationalhealth.com retrieved on 10/5/09). ● To meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students, vertical articulation and transition program implementation is fully developed. ● Springman works with the League of Women Voters, the Glenview Police and Fire Departments , Youth Services, Glenview Park District, The Debra Gelfand Fund, and the Glenview Senior Center.