O'Fallon Progress

OTHS is an outstanding school

O’Fallon Township High School District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway.
O’Fallon Township High School District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway.

Dear Editor,

I was recently was asked why O’Fallon Township High School did not make U.S. News & World Report rankings as being one of the top high schools in the country.

U.S. News & World Report picked measurements/indicators of success that don't seem to favor local schools.

There are a thousand other measurements/indicators (percent going on to college, extra-curricular offerings and participation, Illinois State scholars- OTHS had 115 in class of 2016, dual-credit opportunities, ACT average, etc.) that, if substituted, would change the rankings accordingly.

Here are some thoughts and points for consideration:

▪ OTHS does not have the opportunity to select the students it educates through an application process as charter schools and magnet schools do. Is it realistic to compare schools that serve their entire community of learners and stakeholders by offering a vast range courses for the most severely disabled students up through the most gifted to a charter or magnet school where students “apply” and are hand-picked?

The answer is obvious. OTHS welcomes and successfully educates students having ALL levels of abilities. Nearly 14 percent of the students served at OTHS are students having special needs.

▪ How many of the “best” schools listed in the report have a Transition House to serve special needs students?

▪ How many of the “best” schools listed in the report had 12 military academy appointments for the graduating class of 2015?

▪ How many of the “best” schools listed had their graduating class of 2015 offered in excess of $35 million dollars in scholarships?

▪ Was funding a consideration in the report? How does Illinois’ disastrous and inequitable funding factor into this type of list?

▪ Has anyone from this magazine ever talked to anyone at OTHS, much less had a site visit to gain any real perspective about the students we serve and the vast amount of programming provided to serve them?

▪ Our school consistently performs in the top six percent of schools in this state when being ranked using measures that OUR STATE has identified as pertinent.

Other indicators that OTHS is a great school:

▪ 15 Future Business Leaders of America students qualified for Nationals – Business Education is a valued part of an OTHS education

▪ Our graduation class of 2016 has two Seal of Biliteracy Recipients, 20 Seals of Commendation toward Biliteracy – World Language successes exemplify the rigor of the World Language course offerings

▪  It’s recognized by the Robert R. McCormich Foundation an Illinois Democracy School . Civic learning experiences are a valued part of an OTHS education.

▪ Our AFJROTC completes 5000 plus Community Service Hours annually. Community service is a valued part of an OTHS education

▪ The district offers 26 athletic teams and 68 clubs/activities. Extracurricular opportunities are valued as a component to develop the “whole” child.

▪ OTHS Music Program is equivalent of third in state. Music education is a valued opportunity at OTHS

· Awards and Honors for the OTHS Class of 2015 include:

▪ 112 Illinois State Scholars;

▪ 29Prairie State Achievement Awards;

▪ 6 National Merit Commended Students;

▪ 1 National Achievement Scholarship Outstanding Participants;

▪ 12 Military Academy Appointments;

▪ 147 IHSA Scholastic Achievement Award Winners; and

▪  190 National Honor Society Members.

OTHS is an outstanding high school that successfully serves students, despite whether it was recognized according to the indicators used in U.S. News & World Report.