Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

April 29, 2014

Making the cut

Jackson Adams Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Jackson Adams

Daily News

Two area schools were among only 177 statewide to receive a spot on the state’s 2013 Honor Roll.

Both South Central Elementary School and Clay City High School were recognized with the Academic Improvement Award for major improvements in performance over the past few years despite heightened expectations from state board of education.

The Illinois Honor Roll is an honor given to schools that show Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, over a long period of time. The rankings are determined by increases in scores on the Illinois State Achievement Test given to juniors and Prairie State Achievement Examination given at the elementary level through 2013.

Clay City Superintendent Jim Jones credits the district’s success to increased focus at the high school in areas in which many students had been struggling.

“Our school had been struggling for several years,” said Jones. “Now they have been making serious growth.”

Jones said receiving an award for academic improvement will elevate the status of the district in local academic discussions.

“Clay City hasn’t always had a good name,” he said, noting that is now changing. “It’s certainly making a name for itself in this area.”

Jones expects further increases in scores in the future as the district continues to integrate new technology and more focused instruction with students.

At South Central Elementary, Principal Kerry Herdes believes bringing teachers up to the expectations of the new Common Core standards over the past few years has already helped to increase test stores.

“We have really taken a hard look at our curriculum in math and reading and really fine-tuned it to match up with Common Core standards,” he said. “We’ve taken a long look and are doing curriculum matching and focusing on the areas we were weak in. We’re certainly happy with this.”

Herdes said it wasn’t solely the work of teachers and students that earned the award.

“We really try to make a conscious effort to continue to work on student progress and putting into place different plans and programs to do that,” he said. “It’s due to their hard work, students, families, teachers and staff. We’re excited and are certainly glad the hard work paid off.”

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, at jackson.adams@effinghamdaily news.com, or on Twitter @EDNJAdams.