Monroe County schools either received the same designation or improved on the recently released 2019 Report Cards.
This annual resource from the Illinois State Board of Education, available at illiniosreportcard.com, provides an abundance of data on public schools throughout the state.
Beginning last year, the ISBE provided each school with a summative designation, which is the primary mechanism for school accountability.
The designations are based on 10 measures of academic achievement and student success like proficiency in math and chronic absenteeism.
Last year, 10 area schools earned a commendable designation, while Waterloo Junior High School got a better designation and Columbia Middle School got a worse one.
This year, every school in Monroe County was named at least commendable, and Columbia’s schools all improved.
In the Waterloo school district, Zahnow Elementary, Rogers Elementary, Gardner Elementary and Waterloo High School all earned commendable designations.
Commendable is the second highest of the four designations, with ISBE estimating about 75 percent of schools falling in that category.
Commendable schools have no student subgroups performing at or below the level of the “all students” group in the lowest-performing five percent of eligible schools, a graduation rate over 67 percent and do not perform in the top 10 percent of schools statewide.
For the second consecutive year, WJHS was the outlier, as it got the highest classification of exemplary.
The ISBE deemed roughly 11 percent of all schools and 11 percent of elementary schools exemplary.
Exemplary schools fit the same criteria as commendable ones, but their performance is in the top 10 percent of schools statewide.
“Our students have scored well for several years, and we are again very pleased with the academic performance of our students,” Waterloo Superintendent of Schools Brian Charron said. “We always look forward to seeing how we performed in relation to others, and do our best to analyze the details and reflect on the quality of instruction provided to our students.
“The tests are always evolving and are essentially just one measurement of performance of our school district,” Charron added. “I don’t consider the current system to be perfect, but it does offer much usable data on our performance in a snapshot.”
In Columbia Community Unit School District 4, one school was named commendable and three were deemed exemplary.
“Earning three exemplary ratings and one commendable…. is a welcome and deserving recognition for our school district,” Columbia Superintendent of Schools Gina Segobiano said. “I am extremely proud of this accomplishment and know that our community will be proud of the school district success as well.”
The one commendable school was Columbia Middle School, which the ISBE designated underperforming last year because its students with Individual Education Plans performed at or below the level of the “all students” groups in the lowest-performing 5 percent of eligible schools.
“I felt it was unfair for CMS, the teachers, and a subgroup of students to have to contend with negative implications and/or judgments based on the results of one test given once per year,” Segobiano said, referring to the state-administered, online test used to determine much of the designation. “I do believe that out of everyone, this group of teachers and students had something to prove to everyone and prevailed.”
Eagleview Elementary, Parkview Elementary and Columbia High School all also moved up from commendable to exemplary.
Segobiano said it was hard to pinpoint the reason for improvement, but credited administrators and teachers for making it happen.
“Not being happy with the results from last year, I believe the administration and teachers focused heavier on test preparation, test taking skills on Chromebooks and emphasized positive attitude among the students to slow down and do their best, which ignited intrinsic motivation,” she explained. “From learning of our designations last year in November and the state test administered in March, the three-month turn around time did not allow the district to truly infuse new curriculum or make significant changes.”
All three schools in the Valmeyer school district received the commendable designation for the second year in a row.
Valmeyer Superintendent Eric Frankford did not respond to requests for comment.