Illinois Honor Roll

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2006 Illinois Spotlight Schools

In Fall 2003 the Illinois State Board of Education launched a recognition program, Spotlight Schools, for high poverty schools where high academic performance is closing the "achievement gap." Located throughout the state in urban, suburban, and rural locations, 447 Spotlight Schools earned honors in 2006. They exhibit achievements that are contrary to the conventional wisdom that test scores will reflect demographics despite local efforts.

Criteria for selecting these schools are rigorous. All schools must be making Adequate Yearly Progress. At least half the students are from low-income families and at least 60% must be passing the state achievement tests in both reading and in mathematics.

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

In 2006 = 447

In 2005 = 316

In 2004 = 85

In 2003 = 27

In 2005, rules for the Illinois Honor Roll simplified criteria for Spotlight Schools to focus more on achievement in the award year. The rules require that 60% of students meet or exceed standards in reading and mathematics, based on the composite, building-wide scores. Schools qualify for this award if at least 50% of students passed the state tests in the prior year.  A third criterion is that 50% of students are low-income; that is, they qualify for free and reduced lunch.  This requirement applies only to the award year, not to prior years.  All schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2003-6.

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.)

  • Ranges from 50% to 100% among the 447 schools
  • In 191 schools (43%), more than 2/3 of students qualify as low-income
  • "Low-income" is designated by eligibility for free/reduced-price lunch.


Geographic Distribution of 447 Spotlight Schools

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Chart showing geographic distribution of schools


School Size

  • There are fewer than 300 students in 37% of the Spotlight Schools
  • The 5 largest elementary schools, all in Chicago, enroll 1025 to 1513 students. Aurora, in Kane County, follows closely with 1011 at Bardwell Elementary in District 131.

Repeat Winners

  • 42 Spotlight Schoo received a third award this year.
  • 13 schools are winning a fourth Spotlight School award.

Double Winners

  • 145 schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Improvement Awards.
  • 1 Schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Excellence Awards.

Districts with 4 or More Spotlight Awards in 2006

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Chart showing school districts with 4 or more awards