ReNEW Schools is expecting increases in state performance ratings and testing scores across all five campuses, including the recently added ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary.
At the organization’s board meeting Thursday, ReNEW Chief Executive Officer Gary Robichaux said he anticipated advancement from the low end of D ratings to high Ds or low Cs for the organization’s three established schools serving pre-kindergarten to eighth grade — ReNEW SciTech Academy, ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy and ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Elementary. ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary, a new addition to ReNEW Schools for this year, is projected to go from an F to a D by 2014.
The state will release performance grades in the coming weeks.
Robichaux’s report also predicted a 15-point increase in ratings from this year to next year for all four non-high school campuses, which he said is “a realistic estimate.”
“No matter what, you can take kids and grow them higher no matter what range they’re in,” said Kevin Guitterrez, president and chief operating officer of ReNEW. “It’s a matter of quality instruction and what you’re providing them.”
Robichaux presented information showing that more students are testing at or above their grade levels across all ReNEW campuses. He attributed this to blended-learning techniques using technology and data.
Two weeks ago, ReNEW hired Brandon Phenix, director of blended learning, to incorporate the use of data and technology in students’ learning. He was previously a Teach for America teacher in Chicago and has worked as a blended-learning consultant in Washington D.C.
ReNEW has approximately 3,400 computers across its campuses, Guitterrez said. This is about one computer per student, though the technology is not perfectly spread across all campuses.
Enrollment numbers are mostly on track to meet this year’s goals, he said. Fifth, sixth and seventh grades at ReNEW Accelerated High School are the only grades with under-enrollment.
About 40 percent of students at the high school are college ready, Robichaux said, which means they score an average of “fair” in testing. The goal is to increase this by 10 percent over the next two years.
Additionally, the students have an average ACT score of 14 going into this year. Robichaux predicts a two-point increase per year over the next two years.
The only vote taken by board members was to approve this year’s pupil progression report.
“Basically, it’s a document that outlines, according to best policy — bulletin 741, bulletin 1566, bulletin 1706, special education law — of how we are sharing with parents, making parents aware of how our students progress throughout the year,” said Tammy Robicheaux, chief of instruction at ReNEW.
It has been available for public viewing at all ReNEW campuses, though Robicheaux said it also will go online after responding to public comment requesting even greater access.
The board unanimously approved the report.
Robichaux announced a new opportunity for non-educators to see the inside of ReNEW classrooms. Community members can take part in walkthroughs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Participants will fill in rubrics that will provide ReNEW with feedback.
Finally, the board discussed progress on ReNEW’s Oct. 4 fundraiser. The board aims to raise about $55,000, up from about $37,000 earned last year.
ReNEW’s next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at 3649 Laurel St.