14 Core Messages About D214
The following Core Messages and Proof Points paint a broad picture of our District, emphasizing what we believe and what differentiates us from other school districts.
1. Illinois High School District 214 is one of the two largest high school districts in the state, serving about 12,000 students from eight communities in Cook County.
Our nationally recognized District includes six comprehensive high schools as well as specialized school programs to meet the needs of all students—for a total of more than 600 academic courses and 140 co-curricular opportunities district-wide.
- All six schools have received state or national academic recognition. They consistently have been ranked among the state’s best schools by U.S. News and World Report and among the state’s most challenging schools by The Washington Post.
- All six of our comprehensive high schools have been designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.
- The Class of 2020 mean SAT composite score was 1081. District 214’s composite scores have consistently been above state and national averages.
2. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths.
In addition to race, ethnicity and nationality, culture, language and socioeconomic forces, students are also diverse in ability, sexual orientation and religion.
- District 214 students come from many backgrounds, with more than 70 languages spoken at home. Three of our schools have a majority-minority population.
- About a quarter of our students are identified as low-income.
- In continuing efforts to create a culture and school climate that makes every student and staff member feel welcome, supported and included, the District is developing anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusionary practices initiatives as well as a District-wide “Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.”
3. District 214 educators and administration excel at what they do.
They believe our primary mission is to help all students learn the skills, acquire the knowledge and develop the behaviors necessary for them to reach their full potential as citizens who can meet the challenges of a changing society.
- About 85 percent of District 214 teachers have obtained a master’s degree or higher level of education; 40 have current National Board Certification.
- In recent years, District 214 educators have been named the 2017 Illinois Teacher of the Year, the 2018 Illinois High School Principal of the Year and the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year. A music educator also was nominated for an educational Grammy Award two years in a row.
4. It is our responsibility to encourage every student to explore academic and co-curricular opportunities that will inspire them to find their passion and reach their potential.
- Our co-curricular and fine arts programs continually receive state and national recognition.
- About 75 percent of students District-wide participate in a co-curricular activity, including athletics and fine and performing arts.
- The Class of 2019 earned 47,000+ potential college credits through advanced placement and dual credit coursework. Our participation in dual credit and advanced placement courses continues to grow, with 16,364 individual Advanced Placement (AP) and dual credit enrollments in 2019-2020. Dual credit coursework is offered both at the high school site by District 214 faculty and at Harper College by Harper faculty.
- District 214 offers more than 80 dual credit courses through partnerships with several colleges and universities.
- District-wide completions of AP enrollments have more than doubled since 2007.
- 253 Class of 2019 graduates were eligible for the Harper Promise Scholarship, with 173 matriculating at Harper College in the Fall of 2019. The Class of 2020 had 125 eligible graduates. Enrollment in the scholarship program remains high with over 80 percent of recent freshmen (Class of 2024) committing to the program.
5. Preparing students for the future is a growing challenge — evolving industries, emerging technologies and changing economies require us to prepare students for a future we can only imagine.
- The District continues to proactively seek out partnerships that empower our students to succeed. More than 1,000 partners now work with District 214 to deliver relevant external experiences to our students.
- The District works directly with professionals in the field to help shape curriculum, most recently hosting day-long conferences for students engaging in our Health Science and Law and Equity pathways.
- The District 214 Education Foundation launched the Next Generation Pathway to Completion in partnership with Student Services in 2019, inducting a cohort of 12 juniors from all high schools who will receive support, along with their families, as they prepare for and enter college. The support will continue through four years of college with help from alumni and volunteer mentors.
6. High school graduation is not an endpoint, but an important step toward a student’s future.
Our curriculum is relevant beyond high school and meets students where they are intellectually, socially, culturally and emotionally.
- District 214 offers 39 distinct Career Pathways that are aligned with the 16 nationally recognized Career Clusters and the seven state of Illinois College & Career Ready Endorsements, along with the ISBE 7 career and technical education endorsement areas. These include but are not limited to information technology, graphic and culinary arts, business, manufacturing, health sciences and engineering. Our students develop iPhone apps and businesses as part of their coursework.
- In 2019-2020, 1,500+ students participated in more than 2,400 work-based learning experiences, and more than 2 million hours have been logged through student work-based learning since 2011.
- The White House has recognized District 214 for providing work-based learning experiences for students as well as our efforts to embed computer coding literacy within our math curriculum.
7. Career pathways expose students to a wide range of opportunities and challenge their intellectual curiosity.
- Since 2015, District 214 students have earned more than 3,600 career certifications in areas including computer programming and healthcare while in high school.
- Students in our entrepreneurship program have created successful businesses such as SnapClips, a clip that is used on weightlifting equipment and was pitched on Shark Tank; Hoodie Hoop, a tool to help restring garments; and Skunk Aid, a product that helps clean dogs that have been skunked. Skunk Aid has been featured on WGN-TV and their product is currently sold at select stores and on Amazon. Entrepreneurship students work alongside community business partners, who act as mentors and coaches in building their businesses.
- Students in our Computer Science pathway are developing iPhone apps that are available on the iPhone app store.
- Our Educator Prep program provides a way for our District to “grow our own” teachers. Launched in 2016 with a public signing ceremony at which two dozen students stated their intent to become educators, the program empowers our next generation. Nearly 800 students are currently enrolled in our education pathway. Students earn college credit while in high school and are provided low cost/no debt options through our partnerships with National Louis University and Eastern Illinois University.
8. Collaborative and inclusive learning environments allow students to share ideas, learn from their peers and develop communication and interpersonal skills that will help them thrive in a diverse world.
9. Teachers are challenged to transform learning, take risks, share what they’ve learned and be innovative leaders in instructional practices.
- All District 214 students use an iPad in the classroom, the product of a teacher-led initiative that enables educators to develop innovative curriculum.
10. Administrators collaborate with teachers, staff, parents and students to make data-driven, authentic and purposeful decisions about policies, curriculum, facility use, programs and more.
11. As an active member of the national education community, we intentionally work to develop instructional models that are scalable and replicable across the country.
- District 214, in partnership with The School Superintendents Association (AASA), launched “Redefining Ready!” to change the conversation about college and career readiness and influence the development of “Every Student Succeeds Act” state implementation plans.
- District 214 led the charge in passing legislation to ensure all students who earn a 3 or better on an exam receive credit at Illinois public higher education institutions. In District 214, 5,831 exams earned a 3, 4, or 5 in the 2019-2020 school year, resulting in a cost savings of millions of dollars for our students if they attended a public institution in Illinois.
12. As a pillar in our local communities, we are actively engaged in community outreach efforts to serve our District families in ways that go beyond traditional academic services.
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation secured nearly $100,000 in funding from alumni, community members and others. The money was used to provide basic needs for students and their families facing job loss and illness.
- Working with community partners and the schools, Community Education launched an Adult Manufacturing Pathway specifically aimed at training adults in the community—many of them the parents of District 214 students—in critical skills that will lead them to family-sustaining, reliable jobs in the community.
- With help from the District 214 Education Foundation, the Rolling Meadows High School greenhouse became a source of food and inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic, with staff volunteering to plant and nurture food that could then be donated to families needing the items during the crisis.
- Community Education has launched a series of conversations focused on items of importance within the community, hosting journalists, professors and others in free panels on things like the presidential election. These events have engaged new members of the community who previously had not been involved with District 214.
- Events celebrating and engaging alumni began in 2014, with Community Engagement and Outreach taking the lead on a Centennial Celebration and subsequent building-specific all-years reunions, tours and alumni gatherings. This has led to alumni re-engagement, financial contributions and volunteerism.
- Realizing it would be more ideal to take tech help to those who need it rather than rely on them to come into the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, the District’s technology team coordinated mobile technology outreach.
- With support from Community Engagement and Outreach and the Foundation, outreach programs to those most in need continue to grow at several schools, serving students, future students and families through things like summer camps, mobile libraries, early STEM immersion and more.
13. To enhance teaching and learning, we proactively seek to establish community partnerships and secure grant funds and private investment.
We continue to maintain our financial stewardship to protect our taxpayers.
- The District earned the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and the ASBO Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) for fiscal years 2011 through 2020. The MBA recognizes excellence in school budget presentation and is conferred on school districts that have met or exceeded strict guidelines.
- The District has repeatedly earned the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Certificate of Financial Recognition, with a 4.0 score for fiscal year data from 2010 through 2020. We continue to maintain a balanced operating budget.
- District 214 has not sought a tax referendum since 1971. More than 70 percent of District expenses are from the education fund.
- The District 214 Education Foundation, established in 2015, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support innovation, student success and lifelong learning beyond the limitations of conventional public education funding. Among recent significant gifts was a $1 million donation from an alumnus to fund the recreation of an automation and manufacturing lab at Buffalo Grove High School; more than $150,000 for new career pathway equipment at Wheeling High School; a $75,000 pledge to enhance the law and equity pathway at Elk Grove High School; a $20,000 gift to benefit journalism programming for students District-wide; and several gifts of $100,000 or more to establish scholarships for students in the fine and performing arts, speech and theater, athletics and more. In 2020, the Foundation was celebrated as a nominee for Nonprofit of the Year by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.
- The Foundation’s creation as a District-wide 501(c)(3) has opened the door for new grant opportunities, including a half-million dollar grant from the Joyce Foundation to support career pathway opportunities within District 214 and its educational partners.
- With strong support from Bosch and Bosch Rexroth, the Foundation has secured funding to embed computer coding literacy into the math curriculum; $45,000 for a unique scholarship for students pursuing the trades; significant funding to enhance the Practical Architectural Construction program; and funding for the Next Generation Pathway to Completion, a program supporting first-generation students and their parents coordinated through the Foundation in collaboration with Student Services. Bosch also has provided numerous grants empowering robotics and early engineering education for area students.
14. The District’s secondary mission is to provide residents with opportunities for lifelong learning.
Our Community Education program is one of the nation’s largest.
- The District records more than 30,000 interactions annually with lifelong learners of all ages through more than 1,000 classes in four program areas.