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Message From the Superintendent
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Contact
Dr. Anthony M. Scarsella
Superintendent of Schools

Yvonne Leschkies
Administrative Associate to the Superintendent and Board

8800 W. 119th St.
Palos Park, IL  60464

Ph: (708) 761-5801
Ph: (708) 761-5815

Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:00 pm

One of my greatest concerns since becoming superintendent is our current practice of pulling elementary students in need of academic interventions from science and social studies lessons.  The majority of these students miss out on science and social studies instruction to receive needed reading interventions by our talented Reading Resource teachers.  This practice denies this group of students a well-rounded curriculum that includes science and social studies.  It narrows the curriculum and focuses too heavily on reading and math.  It restricts opportunities for kids to develop an interest in science or a love of social studies; important subjects that facilitate the acquisition of critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills; subjects that focus on creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and an understanding of the world in which we live.  We can do better as a school district and we will do better starting next school year. 

The advent of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002 pushed public school districts across the country to focus too narrowly on reading and math to the detriment of all other subjects.  Federal sanctions and labeling schools "failures" if students didn't meet grade level expectations on standardized reading and math assessments was nothing more than federal fear mongering that helped create the environment that pushed science and social studies aside, not to mention other areas of instruction not considered "core" academic subjects.  The new U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr., acknowledged as much when he recently stated, "I count myself among those who worry that the balance has shifted too much away from subjects outside of math and English..."  

Nobody is more frustrated with the narrowing of our curriculum than our teachers.  In discussing this issue, many of our teachers report seeing a rise in student engagement and enthusiasm in science as the result of our new science curriculum, STEMscopes.  They lament that some of their students being pulled out of class for interventions felt as if they were, at best, missing out on fun science activities and, at worst, somehow being punished.  I've personally received reports of parents refusing necessary intervention services as a result.  Students need these interventions, but they shouldn't have to forfeit the same well-rounded curriculum provided to their classmates. 

Acknowledging that a well-rounded curriculum is essential to the success of all students, starting next school year our elementary schools will implement a new program, "TIDE," or Targeted, Intervention, Differentiation and Enrichment.  TIDE is a dedicated block of 30 minutes daily when students receiving academic intervention and enrichment will be pulled from their classrooms. Students that don't qualify for these services will remain in their classrooms where teachers will be giving differentiated instruction in reading and math based on their individual needs. Our grade level teacher teams will have the flexibility to develop programs that best meet the needs of their individual students.  Restructuring the language arts block to meet the needs of all general education students will allow all to receive science and social studies instruction with their peers.

Our teachers and I are looking forward to providing equal access to a full curriculum to all of our Palos 118 students next year.  Please contact Dr. Ron Cozza at 708-761-5803 if you would like additional information regarding TIDE. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Anthony M. Scarsella
Superintendent of Schools