Student achievement tests given to third through eighth graders will be more difficult this year. The Illinois Standards Achievement Tests are meant to measure learning in areas like language and math. But the new versions given this spring will require a broader understanding of subjects. Illinois will also raise the bar for meeting learning standards, which means fewer students are likely to hit the benchmarks.
The Rockford Public School Board has named Ehren Jarrett as its new Superintendent. The board will begin contract negotiations with the possibility of Jarrett assuming his new role July 1, 2013. Interim Superintendent Robert Willis is expected to stay on until then.
A labor union is demanding the resignation of the head of Illinois' teacher pension system. The union doesn't like what he's been saying about the future of teachers' retirement benefits. Richard Ingram says in order to solve the long-term funding problems of the Teachers' Retirement System, the state has to consider reducing automatic cost-of-living increases for retirees.
McHenry County College will receive nearly $600,000 over three years from a U.S. Labor Department grant to expand its manufacturing and robotics training programs. According to the McHenry County Labor Report of 2011, manufacturing is the largest employment sector of industry in McHenry County.
Nine Rockford schools will be getting additional resources to help administrators deal with discipline and truancy problems and a lack of parent involvement.
Officials with the Rockford School District say the schools are in what they're calling a neighborhood empowerment zone, which has high crime rates and a higher volume of 911 calls. Officials say more than 90 percent of students at the schools also are economically disadvantaged and qualify for free or reduced lunch rates.
A state commission says Illinois schools shouldn’t be forced to consolidate. Monday night's hearing in Rockford was the final of four public hearings on the issue. The Classrooms First Commission has now toured its plan around the state. House Bill 1216 was signed into law on August 23, 2011, creating a commission to research issues affecting school districts.