Curriculum-Related Information

Computers

Use of school computers is considered a privilege.  Any student who damages or misuses any type of computer hardware or software, in addition to disciplinary action, may lose his/her computer privileges for a period of time to be determined by a building administrator.

Student Technology Acceptable Use Policy

Purpose of Technology Use: The Sycamore Community Unit School District (the “District”) is pleased to offer students access to our computer network as well as the Internet. We are happy to be able to provide this service and believe it offers vast, diverse, and unique resources. Our goal in providing this service is to continue to promote educational excellence by facilitating resource sharing, engaged learning, and communication.  Students’ use of the District’s computer network will be teacher directed and for academic-related assignments only.

Opportunities and Risks of Technology: Internet access will enable the exploration of thousands of libraries, databases, museums, and other sources of information around the world.  Families should be aware that some material accessible via the Internet may contain items that are illegal, defamatory, inaccurate, or potentially offensive.  While the purpose of the school is to use Internet resources for constructive educational goals, students may still find ways to access inappropriate materials.  We believe that the benefits to users from access to the Internet in the form of information resources and opportunities for collaboration far exceed the disadvantages.  Ultimately, parents and guardians of minors are responsible for setting and conveying the standards that their children should follow when using media and information sources.  Therefore, we respect each family’s right to decide whether or not to allow their student(s) access to the Internet.

Even though the District does uses robust filtering software to keep students from accessing unauthorized and inappropriate sites, no filter is guaranteed to be error free or totally dependable.  Among other matters, the District is not liable or responsible for:

  • any information that may be lost, damaged, or unavailable due to technical or other difficulties;
  • the accuracy or appropriateness of any information that is retrieved through technology;
  • breaches of confidentiality;
  • defamatory material; or
  • the consequences that may come from a student’s failure to follow  District policies and procedures governing the use of technology.

Privileges and Responsibilities of Technology:  The District promotes the use of computers in a manner, which is responsible, legal and appropriate.  Use of the District’s network is a privilege.  Failure to adhere to this Technology Acceptable Use Policy will result in the revocation of access privileges, disciplinary action, and/or appropriate legal action.   Should a user’s privileges be revoked, there shall be no obligation to provide a subsequent opportunity for access to the District’s network.

Students are responsible for appropriate behavior on the District’s network just as they are in a classroom or on a school playground.  The user is personally responsible for his/her actions in accessing and utilizing the District’s computer resources.  Users are advised never to access, save, print, or send anything that they would not want parents/guardians and teachers to see or read.  Network storage areas may be treated like school lockers.  Network administrators may review communications and files to maintain system integrity and to ensure that the network is being used responsibly.

Network Etiquette: Network users are expected to abide by the generally accepted rules of network etiquette.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Be polite and non-abusive in your messages to others;
  • Use appropriate language. Do not swear or use vulgarities or any other inappropriate language;
  • Do not reveal the personal addresses or telephone numbers of students;
  • Do not use the network in any way that would disrupt its use by other users;
  • Adhere to the licensing agreements governing the use of shareware;
  • Be responsible at all times for the proper use of access privileges and for complying with all required system security identification codes including not sharing such codes;
  • Close any site (URL) that has inappropriate material. Contact or report the site to a lab supervisor or teacher, and do not share such sites with other users;
  • Respect the right of others to use equipment and therefore do not use it for non-school activities; and
  • Protect the privacy of other users and the integrity of the network by avoiding misuse of passwords and others’ files, equipment, and programs.

Unacceptable Use: Users are responsible for their actions and activities involving the network.  Network users will not:

  • Use offensive, obscene, inflammatory, or defamatory speech;
  • Harass other users;
  • Use the account or password of another user;
  • Misrepresent themselves or others;
  • Violate the rights of other including their privacy;
  • Access, submit, post, publish, download, or display any defamatory, intentionally inaccurate, abusive, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, racially offensive, harassing, or illegal material;
  • Post material authored or created by another without his/her consent;
  • Post anonymous messages;
  • Use the network for commercial or private advertising or for the sale or purchase of materials for personal use;
  • Download unauthorized software programs or files including, but not limited to, the following types: exe, zip, mp3, avi, streaming audio, etc.;
  • Wastefully use network resources such as file space;
  • Gain unauthorized access to resources or entities;
  • Use the network for private financial or commercial gain;
  • Vandalize data, programs, and/or networks;
  • Damage technology hardware and/or software;
  • Spread computer viruses;
  • Use the network for any illegal activity, including violation of copyright, or other contracts, or transmitting any material in violation of any U.S. or State regulation;
  • Reveal their personal address or telephone number or those of others; and
  • Use the network while access privileges are suspended or revoked.

Disciplinary Action: Failure to comply with this policy and any administrative regulations and guidelines governing the use of technology will result in revocation of access privileges, disciplinary action including payment for causing equipment damage, and/or appropriate legal action.

Confidentiality: Network users must recognize that there is no assurance of confidentiality with respect to access to transmissions and files by persons outside or from persons inside the District.  Also, the District reserves the right to log technology use, to monitor file server space utilization by users, and to examine users’ files and materials as needed.  Therefore, users cannot expect absolute privacy from District personnel as to their use of technology.

Library

The Library provides a wide selection of reference materials, magazines, and books.  The library is open from 8:00AM-3:00PM each day. 

Students must present their picture ID in order to check out materials.  Students may check out books for three weeks and magazines for one week.  Up to three materials may be checked out to a student.  This privilege is suspended when books are overdue or lost and not paid for.  Students who have overdue materials in excess of double the amount of time allotted for borrowing the material will be assessed a fee for the full replacement cost of the item.  Students must have their assignment notebook signed by a teacher in order to go to the library from class or study hall.  The assignment notebook will be signed by a librarian when the student leaves.  If a student needs to return during study hall, he/she will need to show the study hall teacher the librarian’s signature from earlier in the day.

Assemblies

General assemblies are held occasionally for those students displaying a positive school attitude and for the purpose of providing entertainment, knowledge, and experience of being an audience.  These are held at various times during the day and students leave from their regular classes and sit with their classroom teacher.

At these occasions, friendly and enthusiastic applause is welcome.  Whistling, stomping, booing, and other unsuitable noises are not acceptable.

Field Trips

Field Trips are an extension of classroom learning in a location outside school.  Because students represent Sycamore Middle School, they must be in good standing for consideration for a field trip.  Administrative discretion for attendance on field trips will be used for students whose behavior record causes concern for the safety and well-being of all students.  These cases will be reviewed on a case by case basis.  Students who are deemed ineligible to attend a field trip will remain at school with appropriate curriculum materials for learning. All Field Trip permission slips must be returned on time or the student will not be able to go on the trip.  Students who remain at school will be provided with educational activities for the day.

Testing

Like last year, each student in the building will take the PARCC test for English/Language Arts and Mathematics.  This series of sub-tests will occur between March and May.  These are tests required by the state of Illinois.   Looking at your child’s achievement on these assessments over his/her school career is helpful in finding his/her strengths and areas of academic weakness. 

In addition, all our students will take the MAP test over Reading and Mathematics three times a year.  The scores from this assessment are nationally normed and give the school a good indicator of how a child is performing in a specific area.  Although these scores do not affect grades; special programs, intervention and support are given based on these scores.

The best preparation for these important tests is adequate rest, good nutrition, and hydration to fuel the best possible thinking.

Homework

Homework that contributes to the student’s scholastic and/or social progress is a normal and important part of school life.  It is important that each student complete all homework assigned on the due date.  A normal and reasonable amount of homework to expect at this age level would be from five (5) to seven (7) hours per week.  One of the biggest causes of lack of student accomplishment at this level is not completing work on time.  Parents are encouraged to discuss homework with their child and establish a regular procedure to assure its completion on time.  If additional help is needed, students are encouraged to speak with the teacher to set up time for extra help.

Assignment Requests

Students absent for one day or less should contact a fellow classmate, Google classroom, or the school website for makeup assignments.  Parents who wish to request assignments for students absent THREE or more days may call the school.  The request can be made on the THIRD day of a child’s absence.  The school website is a great place to keep up-to-date on all current and upcoming classroom assignments.  Please understand that because teachers may not have time during the school day to prepare makeup assignments, not all assignments will be available immediately at the end of the day.  Therefore, parents may wish to call before coming to school to pick up assignments.  Students are generally given one (1) day to make up work per day absent (maximum 3 days).  Students whose makeup work is not completed within the required time may be not be given full credit for that assignment.

Schedule Changes

Schedule changes are extremely difficult to honor, because one change causes many others to be necessary.  Therefore, while parents are welcome to call and express their concerns regarding a schedule, it is not likely any changes will result.

Performance Music Drop/Add

Students who wish to drop or add a performance music class will only be permitted to do so if the following requirements are met:

  • Students must get a performance music class drop form from the teacher or counselor and have it signed by a parent.
  • Student must return the signed drop form to the music teacher at least one week before the quarter ends.
  • Request deadlines are within the first two weeks of school, and the last day of first, second, and third quarter.

Extra Help Sessions for Students

Students finding they need extra assistance from a teacher may meet with that teacher before school on specifically scheduled mornings (7:50-8:15AM.).  Teachers also are available to assist students after school, when scheduled in advance.  The SMS staff is dedicated to helping students.  However, there are times they may have already scheduled a student or parent conference or have a staffing or meeting.  To avoid such times, it is a better procedure to check with the teacher in advance.

Saturday School/Saturday Service

Saturday School is an initiative that is designed to meet different student needs.  Saturday School is an intervention that requires students to come to school on Saturday, where they can work with two certified teachers to receive support for behavior, work completion, and academics.

  • SMS is experiencing greater numbers of students who are falling behind in work completion. Many initiatives have targeted this need: before/after school help sessions, Parent Portal, and other individual team initiatives/ These have been largely unsuccessful, as the number of students with incomplete work continues to rise, and gaps in learning are a result. Coming to Saturday school at the end of a week where a student has fallen behind will serve to close learning gaps.
  • Students earn detentions for tardies and accumulated reminder points. If a student fails to serve an assigned detention, the length of the detention doubles. If a doubled detention is skipped, the student earns a day AEP. Saturday Service is an intervention which allows students to be accountable for their lack of punctuality or behavior without losing instructional time.
  • Students who have a serious discipline infraction may earn Our of School Suspension. This results in a loss of instructional time. In certain circumstances, Saturday Service can be offered as an alternative to suspension.
  • Saturday Service is also available for students in the credit recovery program to make up learning where they have earned an F.

Student Progress Reporting (Report Cards)

Pupil progress is reported to students and parents formally on a quarterly basis. Students will be given a copy of the grade card following the nine-week grading period as soon after as computer time will permit.    

The school encourages open communication between parent and teacher.  Parents should feel free to ask for conferences with staff members at any time rather than waiting for grading periods.

Student achievement is graded on the following basis:

90-100 A – for superior achievement

80-89 B – for above average achievement

70-79 C – for average achievement

60-69 D – for below average achievement

0-59 F – student consistently chooses not to meet expectations

Parents and students need to be aware the above standards may be influenced by other factors such as student attitude, student effort, and individual teacher’s curving of grades.

“S” and “U” marks may be used for an individual student if approved by multi-disciplinary team.  The “S” mark indicates that the student has not been able to acquire the necessary skills to work effectively at the grade level at which he/she is now placed, but is working to capacity at the lower level where he or she is receiving instruction.  The “U” mark indicates that a student is working and receiving instruction at a grade level below which he or she should be placed and still is not doing satisfactory work at that level.  Plus or minus marks may be used with letter grades of A, B, C, D.

Honor Roll

Two honor rolls have been established for the purpose of encouraging high academic performance and to recognize those students who have made high achievement.  The subjects that will determine the honor roll are English, social studies, science, mathematics, literature, physical education, allied arts, orchestra, chorus, and band.

  1. High Honors: a student must have earned “A’s” in all subjects listed above. “A-” is considered an “A”.
  2. Honors: a student must have earned a 3.0 GPA in all subjects listed above. A student may not have any grade lower than a “C” to make the honor roll. A “C-” is considered a “C”.

The office will determine eligibility for both honor rolls.

Campus Portal and Report Cards

The Campus Portal has been made available to track academic progress online.  Please access the district’s website at www.syc427.org and click on the link Campus Portal.  Sycamore Middle School will not mail progress reports or quarterly report cards because these grades are always available online for 24/7 access.  If you do not have computer or Internet access, please contact the Sycamore Middle School office in assistance in monitoring academic progress.

Retention/Summer School

Sycamore Middle School feels strongly that students must be held accountable for their learning and effort in school.  Students who fail a course for first semester will be required to make up missed learning through a credit recovery program during allied arts, study hall, after school or on Saturdays.  If they continue successful work second semester, they may not be retained.  Students who fail a course second semester will be required to attend summer school credit recovery.  A student who is unsuccessful in making up the missed instruction may be retained.  Students will be held accountable for completing each grade successfully.

It is the practice of the middle school to promote students one grade each year or retain in the same grade based on the best academic program for each individual student.  The staff will make every effort to help every child achieve a passing grade in each of their subjects throughout the school year.  All appropriate personnel, teachers, parents, guidance counselor, and Response to Intervention Team may be consulted if work from a student is showing a decline.

If all efforts do not produce desired results and a student has not made adequate progress for promotion, the following may apply:

  • The principal will contact the parents of a student who has earned failing grades, and he/she will be required to attend summer school to be promoted. His/her success will be evaluated at the end of the summer school session to consider retention/promotion.
  • Special education students will be considered separately.

Parents will be working partners with school personnel in this retention/promotion procedure. However, the final decision on retention/promotion remains with the school administration.

Student of the Month

Each month, teams select students who merit recognition.  Teams use the following criteria in their selection discussions:

  • Academic performance (though not necessarily “A’s”)
  • Attendance
  • Citizenship/Modeling of Core Values
  • Positive attitude and effort
  • Involvement in school activities
  • Class participation

Notice to Parents Involving Family/Sex Education and Erin’s Law

Illinois Public Act 98-441 now requires that sexual education classes discuss both abstinence and contraception.  Additionally, each year, schools are required to teach the objectives of Erin’s Law; age appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.

Special Education Programs

At Sycamore Middle School there is a continuum of Special Education programming available to meet students’ unique learning needs.  Most students receive special education services within the regular classroom.  Sometimes that means that they are in a collaborative setting, where two teachers, a special educator and general education teacher co-teach together.  Other times, students only require the occasional support of a paraeducator in the classroom.  If there is a more pronounced academic need, there are smaller classes of twelve or fewer students taught by a special education teacher. 

Some students have difficulty managing their behavior, and a classroom with structure and behavior management supports is provided at times during the school day where they need support.  The behavior support teacher works closely with the student’s team to provide support in the least restrictive environment.

Another program that meets students’ needs is designed to provide functional, pre-vocational, and community based learning.  Students work with an assistant and special educator to learn daily living and life skills within the school and community setting.

This continuum of services is designed to meet students’ unique learning needs, and we are proud to be inclusive in our programming.

Accelerated Programming

Sycamore School District #427 offers opportunities for acceleration in the areas of math and literature.  The purpose of the acceleration program is to meet the needs of students whose abilities require a quicker paced and more challenging curriculum than their regular grade level class would provide.  Identified Accelerated Math students are clustered together in single sections for math instruction.  Students receive a math accelerated and compressed curriculum, as well as, enrichment within their regular classroom setting.  Students who move through this middle school program and complete algebra successfully are eligible for the high school freshman geometry course.

Students qualifying for our Accelerated Literature program are clustered together into single sections for literature instruction.  Students are presented with challenging materials that provide for in-depth discussions, vocabulary growth, thoughtful reflection, and independent work.  Classroom teachers work collaboratively to plan progressively more challenging concepts each year, and with high school teachers to articulate the expectations of Pre-AP and AP classes offered at the High School.

In both programs there are specific criteria used to determine the initial pool of candidates.  District testing data is placed on a matrix to determine placement.  At times, classroom achievement and learner characteristics may also play a role.

Student Records

As specified in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students and parents have a right to review, object to, or challenge certain material placed in a student’s records.  Those rights are also set forth in Board policy.