The following are excerpts from recent articles highlighting schools that were honored by the Illinois State Board of Education for their successes:
"Pleasant Hill Elementary School should be struggling. More than 80 percent of its students come from low-income, often-transient families. One out of every five Pleasant Hill students will attend at least one other school this year. Such statistics usually translate into difficult learning environments. But Pleasant Hill is beating the odds, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. It recently designated Pleasant Hill, 3040 Linden Ave., a Spotlight School. The distinction was awarded to schools in which at least half the students are poor, but no fewer than 60 percent met state academic standards during the 2003-04 school year."
"The Spotlight award was one of three the ISBE handed out to select schools this week. It also issued 63 Academic Improvement Awards and 150 Academic Excellence Awards. Academic Excellence Awards were given to elementary schools where at least 90 percent of students met or exceeded state academic standards and to high schools where at least 80 percent of students met expectations. Schools winning Academic Improvement Awards had to earn their way off the state's academic early warning list by meeting standards for two consecutive years, demonstrate at least a 7.5 percent gain in test scores, or show a 15 percent gain over two years."
"The principal purpose is to recognize and really honor schools that are making great strides, [State Board of Education spokeswoman Becky Watts] said. We also want to look at these schools and share their (methods) with others. At Pleasant Hill, a number of factors seem to be in play. Principal Deborah Hapli said the teachers work well together. She's seen the school's collaborative teaching style pay off. As many as four teachers or teaching specialists will work in the same classroom together." (March 4, 2005)
"Two Elgin School District U46 schools have been named to an honor roll for their strides in improving student performance. Oakhill Elementary School in Streamwood and Liberty Elementary School in Bartlett both received Academic Improvement awards after being chosen for the list by the Illinois State Board of Education and Northern Illinois University. Schools on that list made significant gains in performance over three years and managed to change direction from failure to success. The award is for the 2003-04 school year. All of the schools listed made Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind law."
"We're very excited, said Oakhill Principal Pat Barrett. There's no one key ingredient to Oakhill's success, said Barrett, but teachers certainly have made the difference. We've become a real learning community, she said. Teachers, Barrett added, have embraced the philosophy of standards-based instruction. Gone are the days of deciding what children need to know and then waiting until state testing time to find out if they learned the material. These days, teachers are continually assessing students to find out what they know and what concepts they still need to learn."
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