by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—It is safe to say Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School is getting the most out of its curriculum.
John Stewart Elementary was recently named a 2010 Illinois Honor Roll School in the category of academic excellence, having maintained high academic performance from its students over the last three years. This is the second consecutive year JSE has received the Academic Excellence award.
The criteria to be eligible for the award is simple: at least 90 percent of a school’s students are required to satisfy Illinois state test standards in the areas of math and reading for three consecutive years while maintaining an attendance rate of 90 percent or higher.
This is technically the fourth consecutive year JSE has posted qualifying numbers in both attendance rate and test scores.
“The ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) is what (the state) uses to monitor our achievement,” JSE Principal Laura Garland said. “We actually just took those tests again last week, and if all went well, we can make it five years straight.”
Garland said the Academic Excellence award is indicative of the team effort put together by JSE staff and also the effort of students and support from parents. She called the award a “community achievement.”
“There’s no one person or even a sub-group of people who are able to accomplish something like this alone, and we’re very fortunate in our community to have parents who are involved, help hold the students accountable, and volunteer on a regular basis,” she said. “The parents truly support our staff and students.”
According to Garland, JSE’s primary goal is to reach out and meet the needs of every student, not pursue outside recognition and awards. Therefore, a lot of work has been done with the incorporation of Response to Intervention to make sure students are meeting and exceeding standards. She claims this simplistic, unified approach is the secret to maintaining such an effective learning environment.
“Response (to) Intervention is a program that we’ve implemented throughout all of our elementary buildings, and it’s truly a don’t-wait-for-students-to-fail type of model,” she said. “As soon as we see students struggling, we intervene immediately and provide any support that (they) need. We don’t wait (to see) a regression in skills.”
John Stewart Elementary was one of 459 Illinois schools to receive the 2010 Academic Excellence award.