Academics are a Top Priority
With the new leadership at Chester Upland School District, academics are the highest priority as they work to turn the District into a high-achieving educational institution. Academic enhancements have been instituted throughout the curriculum and accountability has been built into all levels of staffing, from administrators and principals to teachers, aides and support staff and to the students themselves. All are accountable for the success of each student.
The goal is to prepare students to lead successful lives and become contributing members of society, in a school environment that is respectful and conducive to learning.
The 2013-2014 school year saw marked achievements in reading and reading readiness due to a number of factors, including:
- increased professional development of the teaching staff
- focused literacy instruction in all content areas
- the District’s strategic partnership with the American Reading Company (ARC), whose mission is to ensure that every student is reading on or above grade level
- greater parent involvement through Parent University, where parents receive training in how to reinforce at home what students learn at school and
- partnerships with anchor institutions, including local college and universities, city agencies, health and wellness institutions and workforce development agencies.
Schools are Safer, Positive Places to Learn
Throughout the District, students are treated with respect while also being held accountable. The District has developed an atmosphere of civility, with everyone – from students to teachers and other staff – working to meet high expectations for good behavior and positive attitudes. That is the kind of learning environment students need to succeed.
Key efforts to improve the climate and safety at schools include:
- creating a single school culture
- building relationships with staff and students
- holding students accountable for their actions and having consequences in place
- enforcing discipline in a fair and consistent manner
- following the District’s Code of Conduct
- having security staff members serve as positive role models
- paying attention to small details such as reminding students to take off their hats indoors, pull up their pants and take their books to class
- building strong working relationships with Chester Police and other local police departments as well as the City of Chester through Mayor John Linder
- creating and growing an environment in every building that is safe, so learning can take place.
An increase in security, the implementation of detailed school safety plans and training around a code of student conduct have also contributed to creating a safe and orderly learning environment-and it’s working. The incidence of violence t has dropped 40% at Chester High School during the 2013-2014 school year compared to the prior year.
Aggressive Enrollment Effort Spells Success for the District
CUSD had suffered a reduction in enrollment each September from 2002 through 2012. Faced with potential school closings and teacher layoffs in the summer of 2013, Superintendent Shannon initiated an aggressive grass-roots recruitment drive, personally going door-to-door in the District and speaking with parents and students about the changes that were occurring. In September 2013, with a solid partnership established between school administration and community members, the downward trend ceased. CUSD opened in September 2013 with 3,041 students, an increase of over 800 students beyond the state-pegged enrollment number of 2,200. In the 2014-2015 school year, the numbers are increasing again thanks to a targeted grass-roots enrollment drive during the summer. Approximately 3,450 students are enrolled as school starts. The state will make a final call on enrollment numbers in October.
District Creates Wish List Vital to Enhancing Students’ Learning and Success
The District has created a wish list of items they believe to be vital to helping students learn and succeed. The list includes everything from addressing building maintenance issues to providing classroom supplies to enhanced academic and extracurricular offerings to off-campus experiences. Find out how you can help turn these wishes into realities.