Academic Model


Creativity using the Common Core Standards

UCSN places tremendous value on the ingenuity and creativity of teachers. We support our teachers with the instructional materials and resources they need to develop and implement a standards-based curriculum, including Common Core standards in English Language Arts and Math.

The UCSN community also believes in the importance of instilling a deep understanding of what it means to be an active American citizen. UCSN teachers have designed a unique Civics curriculum that underscores civic responsibility and includes, for all 7th grade students, a trip to New York City to study the events of September 11th and, for all 8th grade students, a trip to Washington D.C. to better understand American history.

Planning for Data-driven Instruction

In order to ensure that all students are able to engage in a high-quality learning experience, UCSN teachers create thorough unit and lesson plans that are tailored to individual student needs. Using a “backwards design” approach, teachers identify the desired results, develop assessments, and plan learning experiences that will enable each student to attain the desired results. In addition, teachers create thoughtful lesson plans that delineate each stage of student learning, from generating background knowledge to independent application. Data is critical to the planning process as well. Finally, each teacher creates an ILP (Individualized Learning Plan) that addresses the specific needs of each student.


Assessment is a critical component of UCSN’s academic program. UCSN teachers generate and utilize a wide variety of assessments. Within each unit plan, teachers identify the most effective ways to determine if students have met the desired outcomes. Students also participate in standardized tests across the network, which include NWEA (Northwest Evaluation and Association), MAP (Measures of Academic Progress), STEP (Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress), ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test), and ACCESS for ELLs. High school students take all EPAS assessments in order to prepare for the ACT.

Special Education

UCSN provides exemplary educational programming for students with identified disabilities, a direct result of using data-driven practices combined with a deep knowledge and understanding of disability-related issues. UCSN adheres to the same federal and state regulations as other public schools with regard to the provision of support and services in the least restrictive environment. Students are expected to meet personalized, yet rigorous targets designed to improve educational outcomes and provide increased opportunities for independence.

Music, Art, and Physical Education

UCSN believes that the arts and physical education are critical components of a well-rounded education. All students participate in Music, Art, and Physical Education classes. Music and Art teachers use Illinois state standards to guide instructional decisions. Physical Education teachers use Fitnessgram to track and monitor physical fitness progress.