Community Unit School District 303 s EIGHT STEPS College Readiness A Parent s Resource

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1 Community Unit School District 303 s EIGHT STEPS to College Readiness A Parent s Resource

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3 Do you want your child to graduate from college? D303 s EIGHT STEPS to A Parent s Resource The Eight Steps to College Readiness are steps identified by Community Unit School District 303 that will increase the likelihood of your student earning a college degree. College Readiness The Eight Steps will open the door to college for your child. These eight steps are significantly more demanding than the state requirements for earning a high school diploma. This is intentional. Students who only meet state high school graduation requirements may not be prepared to do well in college-level classes. They may be required to take and pay for remedial courses at their college before starting college-level work. But students who attain the Eight Steps are less likely to need remedial classes in college and more likely to be ready for college and the workplace. A Smart Investment Today s D303 graduates face a global economy in which most jobs require education or training beyond high school. In December 2009, the national unemployment rate for those without a high school degree was 15.3%, with only a high school diploma 10.7%, and for students who graduated from college, 4.9%. More education means higher earnings. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the average high school graduate will earn $1.2 million over his or her working lifetime, compared with $2.1 million that the average college graduate will make. A Pathway for All Students Over 90% of District 303 graduates go on to higher education. Unfortunately, only about 60% of those students (and about 50% nationwide) graduate from a four-year college or university. This guide is for parents who want their student to not only attend, but graduate from a college or university. There are many pathways to a college education from attending a community or technical college, to enrolling in a four-year university, to earning an online degree, to working while going to college. Whatever route they choose after high school graduation, students going to college will need to meet higher standards than ever before in order to be ready. We start preparing students for college beginning in kindergarten. The Steps build on each other, so attaining the early Steps puts students in a better position to reach the Steps that follow on the pathway. If your student is not attaining one of these Steps, work with your student s teacher to align your home educational activities with classroom instruction.

4 EIGHT STEPS TO COLLEGE READINESS Grades K - 3: Achieve at or above grade level Grades 3-5: Score Exceeds on the ISAT Grade 7: Succeed in Accelerated Math I Grades 6-8: Monitor your EXPLORE scores Grade 8: Succeed in Algebra I with a B or A Grades 9-12: Succeed in College Preparatory courses Grade 9-11: Monitor PLAN and ACT scores Grades 10-12: Complete at least one Advanced Placement course STEP 1: Achieve at or above grade level in Grades K 3 Reading at or above grade level in grade 3 is a critical component to academic success. From kindergarten to grade 3, students are learning to read. At grade 4, there is a significant change in the purpose of reading and students are now reading to learn. Students have to be able to read and comprehend the concepts and vocabulary in the content areas, such as math and science, in order to be academically successful. It is important that struggling readers get to grade level as soon as possible. Measures of success: In kindergarten through grade 2, students are given the ISEL literacy screening test. Students who score at the 50 th percentile or higher are more likely to read at grade level in the later grades. In grade 3, students take a test called the ITBS which measures their performance against grade 3 students nationwide. The ITBS provides grade level equivalents and national percentile ranks which indicate the grade level of your student s reading and mathematics achievement. How to know if your child is reading at or above grade level: The grade level at which your child is reading is communicated by schools in a variety of ways, including report cards, interim progress reports, test scores, and parent teacher conferences. A separate report with ITBS scores is sent home in January of grade 3. Additional questions: If your student is performing below grade level, ask his or her teacher what needs to happen at school and at home to get your student to grade level. Further information about grade level expectations can be found at

5 STEP 2: Score Exceeds on The ISAT in Grades 3 5 Measure of success: Scoring Exceeds on the ISAT. Three of every four students in D303 class of 2004 who graduated from a four-year college or university scored in the Exceeds category in grade 8. Eight of ten students who score in the Exceeds category in grade 3 score in the Exceeds category in grade 8. Students who exceed standards on the ISAT demonstrate more complex reading, thinking, writing, and problemsolving skills. These are important academic skills for success in college level courses in high school. Additional questions: If your student is not scoring in the Exceeds category, ask his or her teacher about what skills need improvement and what resources are available to help at home. During grades 3-5, ask your teachers if your student is on track to take advanced classes in middle school. How to Know if Your Child is On Track for College You can monitor your child s progress on the internet. Visit the D303 website and set up your account in the Home Access Center (HAC). The HAC is a secure, online system that allows you to check your student s schedule, attendance, daily assignments, and quarterly grades. STEP 3: Succeed in Accelerated Math I in Grade 7 D303 students can take an accelerated math course in grade 7. Successfully completing accelerated mathematics in grade 7 is an important step toward being prepared for success in algebra by grade 8. Research shows that the level of academic achievement that students achieve in middle school has a larger impact on their college readiness than anything that happens academically in high school. How to know if your child is exceeding standards: Parent reports are sent home every year that indicate whether students in Grades 3 5 are below, meeting, or exceeding state standards. Additional information about the ISAT is available at Measure of success: Completing accelerated mathematics course in grade 7 with a B or A. How to know if your child should take an accelerated math course in Grade 7: Talk to your child s teachers and middle school counselor about an accelerated math class, and remember that they will work with you to make the best educational decisions for your child.

6 STEP 4: Monitor your EXPLORE scores in Middle School EXPLORE is a test that helps students assess their high school and college readiness. In D303, your student will take EXPLORE in grade 8. The EXPLORE composite score enables you to gauge your student s high school and college readiness. Additional questions: If your student has EXPLORE composite scores below those shown in the table, ask his or her teacher and/or counselor what resources are available for extra help and what you can do at home to help. During middle school, ask your counselor if your student is on track to take Advanced Placement courses in high school. Measure of Adequate Progress: The following table shows the minimum composite score your student needs to be on track for high school and college readiness. High School Readiness Score Grade 8 EXPLORE Score English Math Reading Science Composite STEP 5: Succeed in Algebra I by Grade 8 with a B or A Algebra I is a gateway to later achievement: Students who earn a B or A in Algebra I by the end of grade 8 are more likely to have future academic success, particularly in mathematics, science, and the ACT college entrance exams. Students who complete Algebra I by grade 8 have a higher probability of taking advanced math courses including Advanced Placement in high school, passing the high school proficiency exam (PSAE), and graduating from a four-year college or university. Measure of success: Completing Algebra I or a higher-level mathematics class with a B or A by grade 8. Additional questions: When your child enters grade 6, ask if he or she is on the path for taking Algebra I or higher in grade 8. If the answer is no, ask what problems he or she is experiencing and what you can do at home to help. If he or she is struggling in the class, ask what resources are available for extra help outside the classroom.

7 STEP 6: In High School, succeed in College Preparatory Courses A college preparatory course sequence in high school is, at a minimum, 4 years of English, 3 years of mathematics, 3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies courses. The successful completion of Algebra II doubles the probability of college graduation. Students who receive A s in regular courses or at least B s in Honors courses have a 75% probability of receiving a degree from a four-year college or university six years after high school graduation. Students who obtain B s in regular courses like Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Biology, and Chemistry have at least a 50% probability of graduating from a four-year college or university. Additional questions: High school counselors are a primary resource for you and your student. Your student should work with his or her counselor to develop a fouryear course schedule to maximize the probability of acceptance at his or her college of choice. STEP 7: Monitor your PLAN and ACT scores in high school In D303, all 9 th and 10 th grade students take the PLAN test. PLAN is a test that helps high school students prepare for the ACT and assess their college readiness. The ACT is the college admissions test most often required in the Midwest. In addition, all 11 th grade students take a practice ACT in the fall and the official ACT in the spring during the State assessment. The PLAN and ACT allow your student to assess their college readiness. Measure of Adequate Progress: The table below shows the minimum scores for college readiness on the tests given during high school. Pre-PLAN Fall Grade 9 College Readiness Scores PLAN Fall Grade 10 Pre-ACT Fall Grade 11 State ACT Spring Grade 11 English Mathematics Reading Science

8 Questions to Ask Your Child s Teacher These are questions you can ask your child s teachers to better understand how he or she is doing in school, as well as his or her progress toward achieving the Eight Steps. STEP 8: During High School, complete at least one Advanced Placement (AP) Course AP courses are college-level courses offered in high school. D303 students who received A s in AP classes had a 90% probability of graduating from a four-year college or university. Students who score a 3 or higher (on a scale of 1 5) on the AP exam may earn college credit and save up to $2900 per credited college course. AP courses also provide students with a measure of their own college readiness. Measure of success: Successfully completing the course and scoring a 3 or higher on the AP exam. Additional questions: Ask your student s teachers and counselor if he/she is on track for the college or university of his/her choice. How is my child s reading? Are there areas that need improvement? Can you show me books that are the right level of difficulty for my child and recommend books that he or she might enjoy? How is my child doing in mathematics? Are there areas that need improvement? How can I help my child at home? Does my child have the opportunity to do work above his or her grade level? What are the requirements for doing well in your class, and how do you assess students work? Can you show me examples of high-quality student work? If my child is struggling to achieve one or more Steps, what support can the school offer? What can I do at home to help my child do better in school? If my child is achieving the Steps, what extra enrichment or support might benefit my child? How can I help at home?

9 WHAT PARENTS CAN DO The Eight Steps to College Readiness are building blocks for your child s success. You can help your child along the pathway to college by monitoring the Steps in kindergarten through high school. Teachers and administrators at your child s school can answer questions you may have about the Steps. Below are some actions you can take to stay involved with your child s education. Nurture behaviors associated with successful students. Praise your child s planning, goal-setting, organizing, and work habits rather than overemphasizing grades and test scores. middle school, students should take the lead in planning and organizing their school work and activities. Talk to your child about college and the Eight Steps. Discuss the What All Students Should Do items. Encourage a culture at home that has college as an expectation. Talk to your child s school counselors (in 6-12) and teachers. Listen to what the teachers say and also express your thoughts and concerns. Work as a team to make decisions about your child s education. Monitor your child s performance regularly in the Home Access Center at Ask questions. In the middle and high schools, meet with a school counselor. You should stay informed about what courses your child should take each year to be on the path for enrollment in his or her college or university of choice. Encourage your child to use available resources. Most schools offer extra assistance. Your child s teachers and counselors can suggest resources that best meet your child s needs. Take advantage of resources for parents. Principals provide information at meetings and through newsletters. D303 offers Parent University workshops on important topics. Learn more through CUSD303 E-News at By

10 WHAT ALL STUDENTS SHOULD DO Help your child be a responsible student. Here are some points to emphasize: Plan your school work, prioritize your activities, and organize your time. These habits are critical for success in college. Set goals: challenge yourself to do your best in every course you take. Focus on your class work, complete your assignments, and arrive at every class ready to learn every day. Read the assigned sections in your textbook before class. Be ready with your questions and participate in class discussions. Take advantage of the resources your school offers. Don t wait: whenever you have questions or need help, talk to your teachers and/or school counselor. By at least 8 th grade, learn about the course and test score requirements for at least five colleges/universities in which you are interested. Ask your teachers and counselor if you are on the path for admission to the college of your choice. By 9 th grade, you need to take the lead, with your parents in a support role. Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat properly.

11 The District 303 School Community empowers and inspires ALL to Attain excellence Learn with passion, and Live with integrity In a changing world.

12 Community Unit School District S. Seventh Street St. Charles, IL NONPROFIT ORG U.S. POSTAGE PAID ST. CHARLES, IL PERMIT NO. 104

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