Monticello receives good grades on state report card

Six area schools, including two in the Monticello district, are among the top performing in the state, according to the 2018 Illinois report card released on Oct. 30.

Monticello High School and White Heath Elementary, Prairieview-Ogden Junior High, St. Joseph Middle School, Bismarck-Henning Elementary and Champaign’s Carrie Busey Elementary all received an “exemplary” designation, the highest of four descriptors of how well the school is meeting students’ needs based on 10 measures of performance.

Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman attributes the schools’ success to two things:

“I think we have very supportive families who have high expectations for their kids, and we have very hard-working teachers who have high expectations for their kids,” Zimmerman said. “We always have had high expectations for academics for our students all the way from K through 12. And when the teachers and the parents and the schools are all in harmony, kids strive to meet them.”

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the exemplary designation identifies the highest-performing 10 percent of schools, while the lowest-performing designation identifies the lowest-performing five percent of schools.

Seven area schools, including two in Danville and Urbana, received the “lowest performing” designation — South View Upper Elementary and Meade Park Elementary in Danville; Preston Williams and Wiley elementary schools in Urbana; Eastlawn Elementary in Rantoul; and Hoopeston and DeLand-Weldon middle schools.

DeLand-Weldon Super-intendent Amanda Geary said the designation means the state will target extra dollars to help the district boost test scores. She said the report card also gives district officials more targeted data to work with.

“Now we have specific student groups that need assistance. We finally have an assessment that is identifying those with the greatest needs. We are going to take this money and target those student groups in an already rigorous curriculum,” said Geary.

“Our designation is a fact, not a judgment, and represents one moment in time. Improvement begins with taking an honest and comprehensive look at where we are, so we can chart the path to where we want to go,” she added.

Schools that are otherwise well-performing but have one or more student groups significantly under-performing received the under-performing designation.

The handful of area middle and junior high schools receiving that designation included Edison, Jefferson and Franklin in Champaign; North Ridge in Danville; Urbana Middle School; J.W. Eater in Rantoul; and Westville Junior High.

The other area schools that did were all elementary schools — Garden Hills, Washington and South Side in Champaign; Edison and Mark Denman in Danville; DeLand-Weldon; Atwood-Hammond; Pine Crest in Georgetown; Yankee Ridge in Urbana; Judith Giacoma in Westville; and Broadmeadow, Northview and Pleasant Acres in Rantoul.

Most Piatt County school districts were deemed “commendable,” a designation received by about 70 percent of Illinois schools. Included in that category were all three grade levels in both Bement and Cerro Gordo, as well as Mansfield Intermediate and Junior High School.

Whole child approach
“The good news is the state of Illinois is now looking at schools in a three-dimensional manner rather than strictly by test scores,” said Beth Yacobi, Danville schools’ assistant superintendent of secondary education. “They took an approach to look at the whole child.”

But “I don’t believe it’s an overall stamp of that school,” she said of the designation, also pointing out that the weight given to some indicators will change, so the designations can change.

“Are there areas we still need to work on? Absolutely,” Yacobi continued. “We need all of our kids to be 4s and 5s (levels showing students met and exceeded expectations, respectively), no doubt. But we also know we have the pieces in place that are having an impact on student learning and helping students become college- and career-ready, and we’ll continue to work on them until we maximize all students’ learning potential.”

Report card highlights
Here are some other highlights of the report card:

— Monticello data showed 90 percent of its high school graduates were in college after 16 months; registered a pass rate for advanced placement seniors of 76 percent versus a state average of 65 percent; and spent $10,165 per pupil compared to the state average of $13,337;

— High schools with the highest four-year graduation rate include Tuscola (98.6 percent), Monticello (97.5), Arcola (97.4), Heritage (97), Arthur (96.9), Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin (96.7) and Oakwood and Salt Fork (both 95.6).

While Danville had the lowest graduation rate, with only 75.3 percent graduating, Yacobi pointed out it increased “significantly” from 70.9 percent in 2017.

— Schools with the most ninth-graders on track to graduate were Salt Fork (100 percent) and Georgetown-Ridge Farm (98). Close behind were Arcola, Bement and Gibson City-Melvin Sibley (95); Mahomet-Seymour, Monticello and Tuscola (93); Oakwood and Armstrong Township (92); and Fisher and St. Joseph-Ogden (91).

— In English/language arts, the top scores came from Prairieview-Ogden, where 61.7 percent of students met or exceeded benchmarks; St. Joseph-Ogden High (57.5), Monticello (56.8) and Bismarck-Henning (56.7).

— In math, the top scores came from St. Joseph-Ogden High, where 55 percent met or exceeded standards; Prairieview-Ogden (52.7) and St. Joseph Grade School (52).

— Danville was toward the top when it came to teacher compensation, with the average pay last year being $54,446. It was a tad higher at the new Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin Cooperative High School ($54,536) and a tad lower in the St. Joseph Grade School district ($54,229).

— As for administrators, the highest pay on average was given in the St. Joseph Grade School district ($125,130) followed by Gifford ($119,173), Prairieview-Ogden ($118,705), BHRA ($110,202) and GCMS ($110,114).

The lowest-paid administrators worked at Villa Grove ($73,067 average), Georgetown-Ridge Farm ($74,215), Oakwood ($74,467) Salt Fork ($74,706) and Hoopeston Area ($75,572).

— The majority of area districts spent between $4,800 to $7,500 per pupil for instruction purposes last year.

Topping that range were Deland-Weldon ($7,601), Rantoul Township High ($7,653), Urbana ($8,194), Armstrong Township ($7,744) and Armstrong-Ellis, which spent about $11,207 on each of its 73 students.

Piatt County Journal-Republican Editor Steve Hoffman also contributed to this story.

Categories (2):News, Education

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