Education

The list of metro-east’s Blue Ribbon Schools grew this year. Here’s who made it.

Here’s what it takes to improve on the state PARCC assessment

New Athens Elementary School principal Jim Marlow talks about how they are preparing students to excel on state testing.
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New Athens Elementary School principal Jim Marlow talks about how they are preparing students to excel on state testing.

There are two metro-east schools where most children have consistently had high test scores, and they’ve been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for it.

Aviston Elementary and Columbia’s Parkview Elementary were named National Blue Ribbon Schools this year along with 347 others across the country.

Waterloo’s Rogers Elementary and Mascoutah’s Scott Elementary are previous award winners.

They each applied for and received the recognition because of their students’ results on state tests like the PARCC exam.

It stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Illinois students in third through eighth grades have been taking it every year since 2015.

On average, just one in three students across the state (33 percent) are considered proficient in math and English based on their PARCC scores.

At Aviston Elementary, 70 percent of students scored high enough to meet the state’s standards for what they should know about math and English in 2017. Parkview Elementary saw 67 percent of its students scoring at that level.

The PARCC exam’s questions are designed to be more challenging than old state tests. They ask students to explain their answers or show how they solved problems.

Beth Horner, the assistant superintendent in Columbia School District 4, called the new standards “a foundation for future learning.”

“In the end, if they’re mastering the Illinois Learning Standards at an elementary level, they’re going to do better in high school. They’re going to hopefully be more college ready,” she said. “It could affect SAT and ACT scores down the road.”

The SAT is Illinois’ assessment for high school students. They can use their score to apply for college or decide to take the ACT, another college entrance exam.

School officials in Columbia and Aviston described the National Blue Ribbon award as “a pat on the back” for the teachers who made changes to the way they taught to help prepare students.

Aviston School District 21 Superintendent Tami Kampwerth said teachers there re-evaluated everything they were doing in their classrooms. In Columbia, students leave early on Wednesdays so teachers have time to analyze student data and decide on the best ways to teach children at different ability levels, according to Horner.

“The kids are going to be excited. ‘Yay, we won a blue ribbon.’ But I think the teachers know the work that goes into that,” Kampwerth said.

They also said community involvement in the schools helps students’ performance.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes
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