A sense of pride swept through CPS last month as 75 schools from all corners of the District were named to the 2012 Illinois Honor Roll.
Produced by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Honor Roll recognizes schools statewide for excellence and/or continued academic progress. More than 600 schools were recognized for the 2011-2012 school year, their selection based on demographic information and scores from standardized tests.
“This is a tremendous achievement,” said State Board of Education Superintendent Christopher Koch. “These schools have shown a remarkable ability to overcome challenges, to make significant leaps of improvement, and, in many cases, to consistently show high academic achievement.”
The Illinois Honor Roll is divided into three categories:
- Spotlight Schools - High-poverty, high-performing schools that are beating the odds by overcoming the achievement gap.
- Academic Excellence Awards - Schools that have sustained high performance over at least three years
- Academic Improvement Awards - Schools that show substantial improvement
The honor roll distinction may have been most meaningful to the 31 CPS schools who received Improvement Awards, as it is indicative of the great strides they have made in the past year. “We worked hard to make this list,” said Shirley Scott, principal of Ellington Elementary School in Austin. “We increased our teacher collaboration to develop consistency across grade levels, toughened our attendance policy, and expanded our afterschool programs to provide opportunities for both struggling and high-performing students.”
Nearly 30 CPS schools received Excellence Awards, among them Louisa May Alcott Elementary School, which serves students from the city’s Lake View and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.
“It’s a welcome acknowledgement of the hard work being performed by all,” said Elias Estrada, principal at Alcott. “We have a great combination of parents, staff, students, and community partnerships, so when all of these groups come together, success is inevitable.”
Kathleen Meunier, whose two grandsons attend Alcott, has been markedly impressed with both the curriculum and school environment. “It’s an amazing school with amazing teachers and administrators who care about each and every student and their learning capabilities,” she said. “Both of my grandsons are thriving.”
Eighteen CPS schools received Spotlight Awards for their success in creating high-performance standards despite the socioeconomic challenges faced by students and their families.
“Our faculty, staff and school families are all committed to the idea that education is a top priority,” said Eileen Scanlan, principal at Kellogg Elementary, a Spotlight school serving 270 students from Chicago’s Beverly community. “And that commitment transfers to the direct instruction of students.”
Scanlan believes that Kellogg’s place on the Illinois Honor Roll has much to do with both instructor prowess and family involvement. “We have very actively involved parents who volunteer at the school and stay informed on the latest information to support their children at home,” she said. “And our teachers, seven of whom have achieved National Board Certification, are vested in being well informed on the latest issues and trends in education.”
The Morton School for Excellence, which also received both a Spotlight Award and an Improvement Award, attributes much of its success to the full school day program. “We were one of the CPS schools to pioneer the full school day at the start of 2012,” said Morton principal Peggie Burnett. “It allowed our teachers more valuable time with all the students, especially those who needed increased intervention in reading and math.”
A former turnaround school, Morton was one of three CPS schools to receive both the Improvement and Spotlight Awards, making entire school communities feel as though their efforts are being recognized.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Dr. Stanley Griggs, principal of William Bishop Owen Scholastic Academy, which also received both awards. “It lets us know we’re doing a lot of things right.”
Griggs attributes Bishop Owen’s achievement to enrichment programs, parental involvement, and low turnover within the student population. “Student attendance is consistent,” he said, “and our teachers have made it a point to become very specialized in their subject areas.”
Frederic Chopin Elementary, the third CPS school to receive both the Improvement and Spotlight Awards, credits its teacher looping system with much of its success. “Our teachers travel with their students for at least three grade levels,” said Chopin Principal Michelle Garcia-Jones. “This way, no precious time is wasted assessing student ability. They are able to hit the ground running from the very first day, which I’m sure helped us earn a place on the honor roll.”
To view the entire Illinois Honor Roll for 2012, visit www.ilhonorroll.niu.edu.