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School District U-46 Adopts Defined STEM to Reach Project-Based Assessment Goals

The Illinois district aims to use performance tasks to encourage student growth and assess students’ understanding of standards-aligned learning.

(CHICAGO, IL) November 1, 2017 —Defined Learning today announced its partnership with School District U-46 ( in northern Illinois for a district-wide implementation of Defined STEM (, a web-based curriculum resource that supports project-based learning. The partnership will begin in 2018.

District U-46 is the second-largest district in Illinois, serving families in 11 suburbs northwest of Chicago, with its central headquarters in Elgin. Nearly 40,000 preschoolers through 12th -graders attend the district’s schools and programs. The district chose to adopt Defined STEM for all students to align with new Every Student Succeeds Act requirements to assess students’ true progress toward standards using methods that are more meaningful than a paper-and-pencil test.

“Defined STEM provides us with an opportunity to align curriculum in all areas with performance-based assessments,” said Dr. Suzanne Johnson, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for District U-46.  “We believe assessing students using performance tasks will help encourage student growth and support the district’s transition to standards-based teaching and learning. Defined STEM’s career-focused performance tasks ask students to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and strategies by creating a cross-curricular, integrated response or a product that also aligns to career pathways. It nests within the idea of introducing students into career clusters as early as kindergarten.”

As part of the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium (, District U-46 plans to use Defined STEM to create a world-class learning environment for all students and to align with the consortium’s overarching goal of college- and career-readiness. The district is also a member of the Performance Assessment Collaborative (, a group of schools aiming to use performance-based assessments to help build high-quality systems of assessment that support the shifts in teaching and learning needed to raise achievement and close gaps while enhancing federal and state policy.

“We are excited to partner with District U-46 to provide its students and teachers with a plethora of opportunities to make cross-curricular connections while exploring a variety of new career options,” said Joel Jacobson, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Defined Learning. “Defined STEM makes project-based learning easy for educators to implement by providing video, multimedia, and text resources all in one place. Our performance tasks provide schools with the ability to thoroughly assess student learning and compare it against the standards.”

District U-46 and all Defined STEM users will experience a refreshed, easy-to-navigate homepage where they can filter lessons by grade level, Common Core focus, curriculum unit, learning standard(s), and literacy task. Educators can also search for performance tasks based on the 16 standard career clusters.

Defined STEM provides meaningful tasks in which students take on a role in a real-world job and solve problems while collaborating with their peers. These tasks increase engagement ( by showing how the material students learn can be applied to a future career, which allows students to imagine themselves on that career path.

About Defined Learning
Defined Learning is a K-12 educational media company that combines technology, creativity, and curriculum expertise to provide useful and relevant products to schools. Defined Learning's flagship service, Defined STEM, is a platform that enables teachers to provide application of knowledge to students through the use of project-based learning, real-world careers, and meaningful reading and writing activities. To learn more, visit

About School District U-46
School District U-46 serves families in 11 communities across 90 square miles within Chicago’s northwest suburbs. The District is nestled in the Fox River Valley, approximately 45 minutes west of downtown Chicago, and includes communities within Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties. Nearly 40,000 preschoolers through 12th-graders attend the district’s 57 schools and programs. Communities served include Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Streamwood, and Wayne; and portions of Carol Stream, West Chicago, St. Charles, Schaumburg, and Hoffman Estates.

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