Illinois Honor Roll

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2007 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, 508 Spotlight Schools earned honors in this year. 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 2007 = 508

In 2006 = 447

In 2005 = 316

In 2004 = 85

In 2003 = 27

ISBE requires that 60% of students meet or exceed standards in reading and mathematics, based on the composite, building-wide scores. Schools may 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 must have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the three most recent school years.

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% to 100% among the 508 schools.
  • In 237 schools (47%), more than 2/3 of students qualify as low income.
  • "Low income" is designated by eligibility for free/reduced-price lunch.


Geographic Distribution of 508 Spotlight Schools

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Chart showing geographic distribution of schools


School Size

  • There are fewer than 300 students in 40% of the Spotlight Schools.
  • The 4 largest elementary schools, all in Chicago, enroll 1234 to 1779 students. Sator Sanchez Elementary in Joliet and East Richmond Elementary in East Richmond follow with 1001 and 1002 respectively.

Repeat Winners

  • 13 schools are winning a fifth Spotlight School award.
  • 33 are eligible for a fourth Spotlight School award this year.
  • 150 schools qualified for a third time.
  • 150 schools qualified for a second time.

Double Winners

  • 103 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 2007

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Chart showing school districts with 4 or more awards