Illinois Honor Roll

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2013 Illinois Spotlight Schools

The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes Spotlight Schools — high-poverty schools where high academic performance is closing the “achievement gap.” Located throughout the state in urban, suburban, and rural locations, 37 Spotlight Schools earned honors in this year. These schools exhibit achievements that are contrary to the conventional wisdom that test scores will reflect demographics despite local efforts.

Criteria for selecting Spotlight Schools are rigorous. All schools must be making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which requires that at least 92.5 percent of the students must pass the state achievement tests in both reading and mathematics. At least half of the students in each school are from low-income families. As the AYP requirements continued to rise, the number of schools achieving this award leveled off in 2008 and has declined in succeeding years. Higher performance expectations - or cut scores - on the state tests in 2013 resulted in fewer schools earning Honor Roll recognition.

The Spotlight Schools demonstrate that low-income students and schools with limited resources can show impressive academic performance. These schools know how to help all students succeed. See Billman's study of Spotlight Schools Award winners, Mission Possible, for Illinois principals' stories on how they do it.


Total Number by Year

Chart showing types of schools receiving awards

Two criteria determine eligibility for the Spotlight Schools Award. First, at least 50 percent of the students must be designated as low income in the award year; schools typically experience minimal fluctuation in this criterion. Second, schools must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) during the award year and two prior years. In 2013, making AYP meant that 92.5 percent of students met or exceeded standards on state tests. Rising AYP standards appear to have been a factor in the declining number of Spotlight Schools.

School Types

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Chart showing types of schools receiving awards


Low-Income Enrollment ("Low-income" is designated by eligibility for free or reduced lunch.)

  • Low income ranges from 50 percent to 94.2 percent among all 37 schools.
  • In 14 schools (or 38 percent), more than 2/3 of students qualify as low income.


Geographic Distribution of 37 Spotlight Schools

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Chart showing geographic distribution of schools


School Size

  • The enrollment in 23 (or 62 percent) of the Spotlight Schools is below 300 students.
  • The two largest elementary schools enroll between 542 and 584 students.
    • Locke Elementary Charter Academy (584)
    • Sullivan Elementary School (542)
  • The largest school is Lane Technical High School with 4173 students.

Repeat Winners

  • Two Spotlight Schools have earned a tenth award.
    • Sheridan Math and Science Academy, Chicago
    • Aroma Park Primary School, Kankakee
  • Three schools are designated as Spotlight Schools for the ninth time.
    • Blackhawk Elementary School, South Beloit
    • Matteson Elementary School, Matteson
    • Willow Elementary School, Pekin
  • Seven schools have received eight awards.
    • Maple Grove Elementary School, Metropolis
    • Xenia Grade School, Xenia
    • Locke A Elementary Charter Academy, Chicago
    • Owen Scholastic Academy Elementary School, Chicago
    • Grissom Elementary School, Chicago
    • Courtenay Language Arts Center, Chicago
    • Grand Prairie Elementary School, Centralia

Double Winners

  • Eight schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Improvement Awards.
    • Aroma Park Primary School, Aroma Park
    • Clark GR Elementary School, Chicago
    • Honeywell Elementary School, Hoopeston
    • Medora Elementary School, Medora
    • Maple Grove Elementary School, Metropolis
    • Northwestern Junior High School, Palmyra
    • Tampico Elementary School, Tampico
    • Deland-Weldon Middle School, Weldon

Districts with 4 or More Spotlight Awards in 2013

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Chart showing school districts with 4 or more awards

Eleven CPS Spotlight Schools
  • Owen Elementary Scholastic Academy
  • Hefferan Elementary School
  • Courtenay Elementary Language Arts Center
  • Clark G R Elementary School
  • Burnham Elementary Inclusive Academy
  • Grissom Elementary School
  • Murray Elementary Language Academy
  • Sheridan Elementary Math & Science Academy
  • Locke A Elementary Charter Academy
  • Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School
  • Lane Technical High School