Illinois Honor Roll

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How Do They Do it? - Academic Improvement

How do they do it? What happens in these schools to accelerate achievement by all students?

Key factors in school improvement reported in Mission Possible, an NIU survey of award-winning principals in 2004, included the following:

  • Exceptional leadership is the most pervasive element.
  • Dedicated teachers are essential.
  • Nearly every principal cited strenuous efforts to align curriculum across grades with the Illinois Learning Standards.
  • Teamwork is not a buzzword for these schools; it requires constant coaching, training, and building collaboration.
  • School teams studied test results and wrote action plans to improve both teaching and learning.
  • These schools aimed higher than "the bar" and celebrated every step toward success.
  • A majority of principals credited their school's success to new programs in reading and writing.
  • Improving test scores was only part of the challenge; the other part was changing attitudes toward change.
  • Principals say that community-wide cooperation is necessary to make change happen.

Mission Possible: Achieving and Maintaining Academic Improvement includes reports on individual schools and commentary from principals.

To learn how they do it from the experts, you can contact Honor Roll principals directly. Please note that many principals, especially in small schools, wear many hats and may not have time to chat.