During the 2017-18 school year, the number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions drastically decreased at Proviso East High School compared to the year before, according to information obtained by the Forest Park Review through a Freedom of Information Act request. The number of out-of-school suspensions also decreased at Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA).
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jackie Glosniak
To alleviate the headaches involved in applying to the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA), the District 209 Board of Education presented a plan for new admission and entrance guidelines for applicants to PMSA beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year.
Earlier this summer, the board created a PMSA Admission Advisory Committee, consisting of board members, parents, community stakeholders and district administrators to examine the entire process — everything from what exam is administered to how and when the school would alert parents about the status of their child’s application.
Board member Claudia Medina was one of the members of the committee who said, based on negative community feedback about PMSA’s application process, that the formation of new guidelines was necessary.
“What we tried to do was open the conversation of the challenges that students and families in the district have had with the entrance exam for PMSA,” Medina said. “We were trying to see and revise the criteria use for entrance exams.”
For the past few years, PMSA was using the Explore exam to test prospective students and incorporate student scores as a large percentage of their admission ranking. But the Explore exam was created to test how ninth-graders nationwide would perform on the ACT, and the ACT exam was scrapped this spring by the state in favor of the SAT exam for high school juniors. Therefore, the committee felt using an outdated exam would not be a good measure for predicting academic performance among future students.
Medina said PMSA Principal Bessie Karvelas chose the PSAT as the new entrance exam for prospective students to better reflect a true measure of academic performance aligned with the new state-mandated SAT.
Another change the committee made was updating the timeline for the district to alert parents about whether their children had been selected for admission into PMSA.
Previously, the district found many parents had issues with turnaround times between when they were hearing from PMSA and when they had to make alternative high school entrance decisions, including having their children attend either Proviso East or West, attend a private school or even move out of the district if none of those options were desirable.
Medina said many parents became angry when they did not receive a decision from PMSA in a timely enough manner. In order to avoid waiting until the last minute to decide where their children were going, many would move out of district before hearing from PMSA or spend hundreds of dollars on applications and deposits for private schools, money and decisions that could not be changed or refunded.
“People had to put these expensive deposits down and gamble whether or not they would actually be entering PMSA,” Medina said. “We changed the date so that it coincides prior to being required to pay deposits for private schools. That saves parents money.
“We worked to find a better formula to communicate, execute and improve the way in which PMSA entrance examinations were handled,” she added.
Board member Ned Wagner agreed with Medina that the time was right to establish better, more consistent guidelines for PMSA entrance.
“What had been happening over the last few years was the criteria was sort of different than the year before,” Wagner said. “We wanted to have the same district and entrance requirements every year and wanted a more transparent process.”
For next year, Medina said, the district is also looking at better ways to promote PMSA entrance to area students, including updated advertisements, newspaper postings and meetings with feeder elementary school districts. VFP
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A screenshot of the September 2016 Chicago Magazine article, in which Proviso Math and Science Academy is listed as the top high school in suburban Cook County.
Friday, August 19, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Proviso Math and Science Academy garnered the top spot in Chicago Magazine’s recent ranking of the top 20 high schools in suburban Cook County, beating out institutions like New Trier (ranked #2), Hinsdale Central (#4) and nearby Oak Park and River Forest High School (#14).
The rankings appear in the magazine’s September 2016 issue and are presented as that month’s cover story. You can browse through the article’s entirety below.
The publication listed PMSA’s 100 percent graduate rate over the last three years and the low per-pupil spending — at $7,661, it was the lowest level on the list of top high schools and more than $3,000 less than the high school with the second-lowest per-pupil spending. New Trier’s per-pupil funding level is nearly $14,000.
District 209 Superintendent Jesse J. Rodríguez said the news is “a great honor for our district,” before expressing appreciation to Chicago magazine for the recognition.
PMSA Principal Bessie Karvelas said she and her faculty are “elated” by the honor.
“To be ranked number one by Chicago Magazine is a dream come true. Our hard work and perseverance continues to be recognized. What a wonderful way to start the new year,” she said.
“I would like to publicly thank my teachers for allowing me to lead them. They are leaders in their own right and I am honored and blessed to work with such a collaborative team of teacher leaders. Kudos to all my PMSA staff and to my wonderful assistant principal, Mr. Bill Breisch.”
This year, the authors of the rankings gave much less weight to standardized test scores and tried to take into account “hard-to-quantify factors for which test results can give only a vague indication, such as classroom environment, teacher-principal collaboration, and parent engagement.”
The nonprofit research firm RTI International calculated the rankings, which were based on Illinois State Board of Education data.
According to a statement D209 released on Aug. 19, the Chicago Magazine honor follows a spate of other recognitions and rankings for PMSA, including a Bronze ranking by U.S. News and World Report magazine in the 2014-15 school year. PMSA was one of fewer than 2,700 schools in the country to receive the recognition. VFP
You can read the entire Chicago Magazine article below: