Significant Improvement in NWEA Scores

The percent of students meeting or exceeding their target scores reached the highest level since Concept Schools started using NWEA, the computerized tests that are adaptive and offered in Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. This year, nearly 10,000 students in the Concept Schools network took NWEA tests, which are given three times a year. The improvement has been greatest in Math with a 7.5% increase in students meeting or exceeding their target scores, from 57.2% to 64.7%. Also, there was a significant improvement in Language Arts and Science with a 6.2% and 6.1% increase respectively.
1st College Acceptance for a Young Gateway Science Academy

Gateway Science Academy St. Louis will graduate its first senior class in March 2016. Shawna Flesh, a GSA senior, received her acceptance letter from Southeast Missouri State University-SEMO, making her the first student to be accepted to a university in GSA's short but proud history.

Congratulations, Shawna and the GSA community! 
National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15 in the United States. This month-long celebration recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to our country and provides opportunities to explore these rich cultural heritages.

Spanish Language teachers at Concept Schools will be engaging students in many special activities and projects to mark the occasion and are planning on welcoming several guest speakers throughout the month!  
Next Generation Science Standards in Illinois
Effective February 27, 2014, the Illinois State Board of Education promulgated a rulemaking incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS replaced the existing Illinois Science Standards in Concept Schools in the Chicago area in grades 4-12. Our schools are using an online curriculum developed by Accelerated Learning from Rice University, Texas.

The new science standards are designed to help students acquire a deep understanding of core science and engineering content and ideas as well as experience applying that knowledge in any context. Students will demonstrate their scientific proficiency by engaging in practices that demonstrate the ability to apply scientific concepts.
Social Studies Teams Up with English
Living in an ever-increasing interconnected world, the Social Studies department at Concept Schools is always looking for ways to incorporate other subjects skills into our classrooms.

This year the Social Studies teachers will be using a calendar system to support English teachers by focusing on six key strategies. The goal is to help improve students' reading ability by teaming up with the English teachers so that students are able to strengthen theses skills across multiple content areas.

For more information and specific strategies follow the link:
Below are the focus strategies for the 2015-2016 school year.
MMSA Milwaukee's Secret Gift Giver 

The first graders in Ms. Emily Ventola's class are celebrating. Just before the start of the school year for Milwaukee Math and Science Academy, Ms. Ventola signed her class up for a program called Reddit Teacher Gift Exchange, where a class is matched with an anonymous donor who will send a gift of schools supplies. The package arrived filled with notebooks, glue sticks, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and four hardcover read-aloud books!

In the US, teachers spend an average of $513 of their own money to supply students with needed school supplies. Programs such as Reddit Teacher Gift Exchange and Donors Choose allow private citizens help support schools through anonymous donations.

Click the links below if you are interested in donating or contact your local Concept-affiliated school.

Donors Choose:
(Search Horizon Scicence Academy)
Special Education Department Gears Up for a Great 2015-2016 School Year
Concept Schools Special Education West Region staff

The Concept Schools Special Education Department kicked off the 2015-2016 school year proudly, with regional professional development tours throughout our seven states of schools. Among the many topics that were presented were understanding disabilities laws for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the 20 IDEA Part B Indicators that support school compliance; the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 Rehabilitation Act; case management, Individualized Education Planning, and school operating standards for each state; along with procedural safeguards and guidelines; differentiated instruction; co-teaching and ways to support the continuum of service delivery according to least restrictive environments, mindful of including related service supports.

Staff engaged in activities that promoted their understanding of these compliance areas, with best practices and ethical, visionary connections, as we operate with the mind frame of being professional learning communities utilizing researched-based practices. Concept Schools truly care about our students, and it shows, through our visionary efforts that support all students! Examples of these can be found at
Teaching Online Safety 
Computer Science classes at Concept Schools are teaching students important lessons about digital citizenship and online safety. As members of the "digital generation," our students are online now more than ever, and we need to play a role in teaching them how to protect themselves from such dangers as privacy threats and cyber-bullying. Concept Computer Science teachers are instructing their students to carefully consider their decisions before posting photos, videos, or any other information about themselves, friends, or others online. Students are also learning to distinguish good-natured teasing from cyber-bullying and serious forms of cyber-bullying, which include harassment, deception, "flaming," and threats to safety.

We encourage all families in the Concept network to keep an open dialogue with their children about these safety concerns.
Important Updates to ConceptSIS
We are constantly working to improve efficiency for our teachers and communication with parents through our school interactive system (SIS). Below are some recent updates and enhancements to be aware of this school year:
  • A new "forgot password" link on login page.
  • Ability to upload employment document templates
  • New format for Apply Online, Job application, Clock in/out pages
  • Spanish version of Student Online Application
  • Required fields in black and bold now (with a red asterisk)
Curriculum Updates:
  • The Unit Scheduler feature allows users to change the dates of the units of a curriculum visually. It can be reached by clicking the Calendar icon next to a curriculum name.
  • When the dates of a unit are changed, lesson plans are also shifted to the new dates.
  • Three lesson plan boxes (before/during/after) merge into one box.
  • Lesson plan box size is dynamic (it becomes longer when you enter a long text).
  • Master curricula were assigned automatically to teachers' accounts.
  • Standards can be searched
  • All Save buttons on the Units page save the selected lesson plan as well.

We think you will find these new enhancements useful! 
MathCON in the Media
Compared to Mathcounts, the most well-known middle school mathematics competition that was started in 1982 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Concept's very own MathCON surpassed Mathcounts in the number of students attended this year!

With more than 45,000 students in grades 5-12 competing in the first-round online test to qualify for the finals in Chicago, Concept's MathCON received plenty of media attention in the newspapers, local TV stations, and blogs in the states of participants. You can see some of the exciting coverage of MathCON 2015 at

And save the date for September 28, 2015, the date that registration for MathCON 2016 opens! Visit for more details.
New Director of Upper Elementary Education Makes the Rounds     
Don Shanahan, the new Director of Upper Elementary Education, has been begun hitting the road to visit schools and teachers. He and Jennifer Sajovec, the Director of Primary Education, just recently visited HSA-Lorain on September 10th. They observed classrooms, provided feedback, met with teachers, and sat in on grade-level meetings. Most importantly, Jennifer and Don presented some in-house textbook training for the new Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys series that our network has adopted. 

With more official training on the way from HMH set for our fall Professional Development days, Jennifer and Don wanted to add their personal approach to making the available components and resources with Journeys work best for our Concept elementary classrooms, in both self-contained/interdisciplinary settings or block schedule departmentalized settings. Jennifer and Don will be visiting HSA-Columbus Elementary towards the end of September to do the very same.

Finally, in the first edition of a newsletter segment called "Spot the Best," we would like to highlight some of the best sights and examples of best practices from around the network, either from Mr. Shanahan's observations or teacher submissions. Excuse the angle, but first up is an excellent bulletin board classroom mantra from Ms. Tiffany West, a fifth grade teacher at HSA-Lorain. Great motivational thinking!  
The second "Spot the Best" submission comes from Ms. Katy Himsel, a third grade teacher at IMSA West. She shared a great look at her class taking the wonderful opportunity to conduct their literacy circles outside in the nice late summer weather.
Concept Schools | (847) 824-3380 | | 2250 E. Devon Ave.
Des Plaines, IL 60018
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concept schools | 2250 E. Devon Ave. | Des Plaines | IL | 60018