Illinois Honor Roll

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2010 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, 300 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 85% of students must be passing the state achievement tests in both reading and mathematics. At least half 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 declined in 2009 and 2010.

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% of 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 2010, making AYP meant that 77.5% 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% to 100% among all 300 schools.
  • In 116 schools (39%), more than 2/3 of students qualify as low income.


Geographic Distribution of 300 Spotlight Schools

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Chart showing geographic distribution of schools


School Size

  • The enrollment in 58% of the Spotlight Schools is below 300 students.
  • The two largest elementary schools enroll 1434 to 1633 students.
    • Beasley Elementary Magnet Academic Center (1434), Chicago
    • Disney Elementary Magnet School (1633), Chicago

    Repeat Winners

    • Seven schools have earned the Spotlight Schools award every year since the Honor Roll began in 2003 — eight times.
      • Blackhawk, Freeport
      • Dewey, Quincy
      • Franklin, Belleville
      • Jones College Prep, Chicago
      • Lincoln Center Montessori, Kankakee
      • Washington, Quincy
      • Whittier, Peoria
    • 21 schools are designated as Spotlight Schools for the seventh time.

    Double Winners

    • 13 schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Improvement Awards.
    • 5 Schools earned both Spotlight Schools and Academic Excellence Awards.
      • Jones College Preparatory High School, Chicago
      • Vanderpoel Elementary Magnet School, Chicago
      • Tilden Attendance Center, Tilden
      • Willow Elementary School, Pekin
      • Armstrong-Ellis Elementary School, Armstrong

    Districts with 4 or More Spotlight Awards in 2010

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    Chart showing school districts with 4 or more awards