Education

Belleville West, Highland high schools among top 100 in Illinois

How did Belleville District 201 teachers help students top state average test scores?

Director of Student Services Melissa Taylor said in District 201, typically low-scoring groups of students surpassed the state averages this year on the new standardized test called the Partnership for Assessment for of Readiness for College and C
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Director of Student Services Melissa Taylor said in District 201, typically low-scoring groups of students surpassed the state averages this year on the new standardized test called the Partnership for Assessment for of Readiness for College and C

Two of U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 high schools in Illinois are located in the metro-east.

Belleville West High School and Highland High School are ranked No. 100 and No. 91, respectively.

They’re among 12 local schools to receive awards for high performance from U.S. News, but they’re the only two schools to rank in the top 100.

On social media this week, Belleville District 201 Superintendent Jeff Dosier attributed Belleville West’s and Belleville East’s recognition to the district’s “top teachers” and “stellar students.” That’s because the awards and rankings are based in part on students’ performance on state-required tests like PARCC, Dosier said in an interview.

“It’s especially nice that both schools received the medal this year,” he said. “It’s really nice to see West crack the top 100.”

Highland High School was the top-scoring local high school on last year’s state test. Like District 201, Principal Karen Gauen said Highland High School’s students and teachers are the main reasons for its recognition.

School staff have been working to engage the Highland students in lessons, which Gauen said can mean creating a real-world scenario rather than a worksheet for them to work through a math problem, for example.

Gauen also points to teachers’ efforts to work with the community as something that has helped students’ performance.

“It really does take a village to educate kids,” she said.

U.S. News states on its website that it also takes graduation rates and advanced placement course participation into account when it determines the rankings.

In Belleville, Dosier said both high schools are encouraging more students to enroll in AP courses. The district is working to address a lack of diversity among the students taking those classes.

In U.S. News’ best high schools list this year, more than 6,000 public schools received either gold, silver or bronze medals. The gold medals are given to the top 100 schools nationwide, the organization states.

Each of the schools from the area that were recognized received bronze medals, including:

▪  Alton High School

▪  Belleville West High School

▪  Belleville East High School

▪  Central Community High School in Breese

▪  Coulterville High School

▪  SIU Charter School of East St. Louis

▪  Highland High School

▪  Marissa Junior and Senior High School

▪  Mascoutah High School

▪  O’Fallon Township High School

▪  Valmeyer High School

▪  Waterloo High School

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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