Champaign Unit 4 Schools – Preparing students for success after high school

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to attend a Champaign Unit 4 event to stay informed of the latest news so that I can be of further service to you as you consider a move to the area.  There was so much information shared, that this will become a four-part piece covering Academics, the Choice Program, Important Dates, and The Future of Unit 4.  

Let’s talk about academics. Dr. Laura Taylor, the Assistant Superintendent, shared about the strides that Unit 4 is making towards preparing students for college or technical schools. Unit 4 serves about 10,000 students, higher than what had been anticipated based on census numbers. The District’s ACT scores exceed the state and national level and future testing is transitioning more towards the SAT, which still continuing to offer the ACT.

Dual-credit courses – These classes let a student earn college credit and shows colleges that a student is prepared for college-level classes.  Some of the classes are taught by Parkland College professors and, for many of those, a student will only receive credit if they attend Parkland. This saves parents’ money and gives the students a leg-up. Some students, upon graduation, are only a few courses away from having an Associate’s Degree, especially in business fields, from Parkland College.  Enrollment in dual-credit courses has gone up over the years (493 in the 2017 graduation year).

Advanced Placement (AP) courses – When I was a high school student, having the opportunity to take AP classes, and subsequently scoring well on the AP exams, meant that I could save a lot of money in college tuition! While the classes were challenging, looking back, I can see why my parents pushed me to study hard and do well in school. 🙂 Unit 4 high schools currently offer 20 AP courses; AP English Language and Composition will be added in the 2018/19 school year. AP World History is a sophomore-level course and is a good way for students to become more comfortable with the idea of taking future AP classes. In 2017, 316/415 students scored at least a “3” over 672 exams taken, which is the score needed to receive any college credit.  AP offerings and enrollment has really increased over the past 5 years (225 students took AP courses in 2012). A neat factoid is that no one has scored below a “3” in AP Computer Science in Unit 4 since its inception several years ago.

It is great to see increased course offerings. I have been to many of these events over the years and the staff’s desire to provide the best education possible to the community’s children has been very evident. Let me know your thoughts about your Unit 4 academic experience, or your questions about area schools. I am happy to point you in the right direction so that you have better peace of mind about moving to the area.

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