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Jefferson Junior High School - Celebrating Diversity

Principal Megan Ptak and Assistant Principal Eric Decker recently presented the Jefferson Junior High School Improvement Plan to the Naperville 203 Board of Education.

Jefferson has 848 students and is the most diverse junior high in the District with representative population from all of the State identified subgroups.  Jefferson is the magnet school for English Language Learners, as well as, the District’s Dual Language program for all of junior high.  These specialty programs help build the diverse student population at Jefferson.  This diversity is a celebration for Jefferson, but also holds areas of focus and growth in the School Improvement Plan.  Jefferson administrators and staff pride themselves on ensuring a safe, collaborative, and inclusive environment for all students. 

JJHS Students

After reviewing preliminary data at the start of the school year, the Jefferson administration decided to refocus, adjust instruction and grow as an institution where all students can achieve to their highest potential academically.  All new academic teams were developed for the 2019-2020 school year and school leadership asked the questions “what do we stand for” and “why are we here.”  The answer became clear that the purpose and responsibility to Jefferson students is to continue to build a collaborative community of staff and students where all feel safe and accepted in order to grow into their best selves.  

Highlights of Jefferson’s progress towards their goals include:

Students made growth in English Language Arts (ELA) in 2019, trending upwards from 63% to 66%. Administrators believe students will continue to grow in the expectations measured by the Illinois Assessment of Readiness for English Language Arts and have set the two year goal at 71%.  Student support includes building classroom libraries in all content area classrooms, incorporating a push-in model with our Strategic Reading Teacher and Bilingual Reading Teacher, and encouraged teachers to build upon their MTSS Tier 1 instruction through the use of flooding practices and reteaching. Through the hard work and innovative instructional practices of the Jefferson staff, along with continued professional learning for staff in the areas of visible learning and strategies for English learners, all students can accomplish their growth targets.

Another point of pride at Jefferson is the growth in subgroups that have identified gaps in achievement.  The Hispanic/Latino subgroup grew 12 points in proficiency, while the Black/African American subgroup grew 16 points in proficiency.  There was also growth in Jefferson’s emergent bilingual and economic disadvantaged subgroups.  While none of the groups are at the point of our overall school scoring of proficiency for ELA, their growth and progress toward closing the gaps has begun.

Math data at Jefferson is not showing the same growth as ELA data.  In 2019, 49.15% of students met or exceeded expectations on Mathematics as measured on the Illinois Assessment of Readiness.  Jefferson is determined to change the math trajectory through department changes, professional learning, as well as the school, and the continued work using the multi-tiered systems of support.  Jefferson has set the target for students' growth to 55% of all students meeting or exceeding expectations on the IAR by 2021.  

Jefferson is identifying strategies and action steps to help students grow and succeed including targeted professional learning in areas such as English Language, Math, and Literacy Strategies, and Formative Assessment tools.  This past summer, Learning Support Coaches and teachers used reflection guides and assessment protocols to build teacher capacity in creating common formative assessments and high quality Tier 1 instruction. Teacher teams partnered with specialists to identify essential standards, analyze data, create student groups, and develop plans for re-teaching.  These efforts will assist teachers in supporting growth for all students.

Professional Learning Communities

Jefferson also wants to continue to encourage families to learn more about the identification of students for academically talented learning.  To increase understanding of the process, Jefferson set up individualized stations during parent teacher conferences, which allowed students and parents the chance to explore academically talented learning, the scores needed, and how to advocate for their child.


Last year, Jefferson began the process of refining the MTSS process with a committee of teachers.  This year, the entire Jefferson staff is implementing the MTSS framework to enhance academic and social emotional support provided to students.  This shift in instructional practice has already made a positive impact on how Jefferson staff identify student academic and social/emotional needs.  In addition to the MTSS framework, even more in depth support of students will come through teachers’ work in Tier 1 instruction, both Math interventionists, Strategic Reading teacher, and Bilingual Reading specialist providing dynamic support using both push-in and pull-out services.

Jefferson is a diverse, unique, special place and that is why staff is committed to educating the whole child, at all times.  While there is still work to be done in order to help students succeed at their highest potential, Jefferson will not stop trying to help every child succeed and grow!