BEECHER CITY — Beecher City Grade School received the Illinois School Report Card’s highest rating, and while the junior-senior high school may not have fared quite as well, Superintendent Philip Lark said he is proud of both schools, and attributes the success to the district’s high teacher retention rate.
“If they start here, they usually finish here,” said Lark. Unit 20’s teacher retention rate is 92 percent.
Lark said the success can also be accredited to the community.
“At Beecher City, we’re pretty lucky we have good kids and good parents that support our school system,” Lark said. “We can’t be satisfied with being the norm. We need to try to excel in all areas.”
“If you don’t have the support, and you don’t have good kids and good teachers, it hurts,” Lark said.
Schools taking part in the Illinois Report Card receive one of four designations from the Illinois State Board of Education: Exemplary, Commendable, Underperforming or Lowest-performing. Beecher City Junior-Senior School was designated Commendable by the state, while the grade school was deemed Exemplary.
A detailed look at the Beecher City Community Unit School District 20 report card can be found online at: www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?districtId=03025020026
Beecher City Grade School has received the Illinois State Board of Education’s highest designation for two consecutive years.
Of the 3,067 elementary schools in Illinois evaluated, 334 were designated Exemplary.
The grade school had a math proficiency of 77 percent — much higher than the state average. The school also scored above state average in English Language Arts and Science.
“It’s a definitely a team effort — students, staff and community,” said Beecher City Grade School Principal Rosa Milleville.
The school received another accolade when the preschool program was named Gold Circle of Quality by ExceleRate Illinois.
“I think it all starts there and primary K-1-2 set the foundation,” Milleville said.
Milleville also attributes the school’s success to AIMS Webb Plus testing, which she found helps to establish the school’s Response To Intervention (RTI) groups. RTI is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.
“We do a fall, winter and spring benchmark, and then we do progress monitoring continuously throughout the year.” Milleville said.
Milleville said RTI students go to either a reading or math RTI group. Once they meet their targets in reading and math, students are able to pick either RTI-PE, RTI-Art, RTI-Movie or RTI-Spanish. Also students can work their way up to an iPad group in which they can perform educational activities.
“It’s a motivator to get them to do their best on testing so they can hit their target score and test out,” Milleville said. “We have a specific time of day every day for RTI.”
She said through RTI students are continuously being challenged to work on their weakest areas and excel.
“The ability for students to test out has made it very successful for us,” Milleville said. “We don’t accept zeros here. You have to do your work.”
Milleville said the RTI program also is a motivator for students to come to school, noting the school has had a 97 percent attendance rate the past two years.
Milleville gives a lot of credit to her teaching staff for the school’s exemplary mark. The grade school had 100 percent teacher retention in 2019, 94 percent in 2018 and 97 percent in 2017.
“Our turnover is retirement,” Milleville said. “Most of my teachers have been in this building 20-plus years.”
“I really think it makes a difference,” she added. “I have an awesome staff.”
Milleville has served more than 34 years in the school district, with 12 of them as principal. That will come to an end when she retires after this school year.
“Education is all I’ve known,” Milleville said. “Most of my students, I’ve had at least one or two of their parents and I have some third-generation students,” Milleville added. “We have some really good families in our district. It’s really cool to see the next generation coming through.”
Junior-Senior High School
Beecher City Junior-Senior High School received a commendable designation — the second highest level for schools — from the ISBE for 2019 and 2018. Out of 680 high schools in Illinois, 546 received the designation.
In the three areas tested this year, 37 percent of students met math proficiency, exceeding the state average; 26 percent met English and Language Arts proficiency, same as the state average; and 50 percent were proficient in science, just above the 49 percent state average. In 2018, the high school had 56 percent proficiency in English and Language Arts, with 19 percent of the students exceeding the proficiency level, and 38 percent met proficiency in math.
There were 157 students enrolled in the school in 2019, 150 students in 2018 and 159 in 2017. The graduation rate was 89 percent for 2019, up 7 percent over last year but below the high of 91 percent in 2017.
Lark said last year only 13 students graduated.
“That was one of the smallest classes we’ve had here at Beecher City and one person can make a big difference in the test scores,” Lark said. “Our average graduating class is between 16 and 25.”
Community college remediation figures show 42 percent of students who attend community college after high school required remedial coursework in 2019, faring slightly better than 44 percent in 2018. However, the percentage of high school graduates enrolled in colleges and universities was 76 percent in 2019, up from 58 percent in 2018. In 2019 and 2018, 37 percent of high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 were taking early college coursework.
Attendance rate for 2018 and 2019 was 96 percent. Teacher retention in 2019 was 86 percent, down from 95 percent in 2018 and 98 percent in 2017.