Illinois Honor Roll

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2008 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, 499 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% (62.5% in 2008) 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

Chart showing types of schools receiving awards

ISBE requires that 60% (62.5% in 2008) of students meet or exceed standards in reading and in mathematics, based on the 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 two 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 499 schools.
  • In 239 schools (48%), more than 2/3 of students qualify as low income.


Geographic Distribution of 499 Spotlight Schools

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Chart showing geographic distribution of schools


School Size

  • The enrollment in 44% of the Spotlight Schools is below 300 students.
  • The three largest elementary schools enroll 1037 to 1343 students. Twain Elementary and Lyon Elementary in Chicago and Baldwin Intermediate in Quincy are the largest elementary Spotlight Schools. Lane Technical High School has the highest enrollment for a Spotlight School, 4088.

Repeat Winners

  • 9 schools are designated as Spotlight Schools for the sixth time.
  • 30 schools received a fifth Spotlight School award.
  • 114 schools qualified for a fourth year.

Double Winners

  • 44 schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Improvement Awards.
  • 7 Schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Excellence Awards.

Districts with 4 or More Spotlight Awards in 2008

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Chart showing school districts with 4 or more awards