Peoria’s Washington Gifted is No. 5 on Sun-Times’ middle school list


 


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Seven area schools were ranked by the Chicago Sun-Times as among the best performing in the state, according to a recent analysis of 2007 state test results.


 


Three lists of top 50 performing schools were complied — high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Washington Gifted School in District 150 had the highest ranking of the area schools, at No. 5 on the middle school list.


 


Other schools that made the lists include: Morton High School in Morton District 709; Tremont High School in Tremont District 702; Spoon River Valley Senior High School in Spoon River Valley District 4; and Dunlap High School, Dunlap Middle School and Wilder-Waite Elementary School in Dunlap District 323.


 


Jeff Hinman, principal at Tremont High, was happy to hear of the school’s status Tuesday but said there are more important things to focus on.


 


"The No. 1 motivator for us is student performance, trying to make sure every student is learning at his or her ability level. Student achievement drives us more than rankings, it really does," Hinman said. Tremont High was ranked No. 41 on the high school list.


 


He said the school has implemented several initiatives in the past couple of years that have helped achievement, like increasing Advanced Placement course offerings and introducing a tutoring program for struggling students.


 


The Sun-Times generated the lists using a statistical method called standardizing to analyze the reading and math scores of students who took state tests. The method compares each student’s score with the state’s average score and uses that information to create a school average. School averages are then compared.


 


Washington Gifted continues to maintain its top-tier status in the ranking. In 2005, it was No. 1 on the Sun-Times list.


 


"I think (the ranking is) a real tribute to, first of all, the students who follow through and who are responsible learners. Certainly kudos to the staff who continue to work very hard to make sure we continue to address state standards," said Principal Joan Wojcikewych, who also attributed the school’s success to parents.


 


At Dunlap District 323, where three schools are in the rankings, Superintendent Jeanne Williamson said their academic success "isn’t an accident."


 


"Students come to us ready to learn, and we take them to the next level. That’s our job, and we’ve been able to deliver. … This has been deliberate work to move forward," Williamson said Tuesday.


 


She pointed to the district’s efforts to align its curriculum to state standards and buy new textbooks with the same standards in mind.


 


"For us (the ranking) acknowledges the hard work on the part of our teachers and our students and our administrators. It validates that we are working in the right direction," Williamson said.


 


Clare Jellick can be reached at (309) 686-3112 or cjellick@pjstar.com.


 


The Chicago Sun-Times recently published its "Top 50" lists of Illinois schools, based on state test results. Below are the area schools that made those lists.


 


Top 50 high schools


No. 22: Morton High School, Morton District 709


No. 23: Dunlap High School, Dunlap District 323


No. 41: Spoon River Valley Senior High School, Spoon River Valley District 4 (tied with four other schools)


 


Top 50 middle schools


No. 5: Washington Gifted School, Peoria District 150


No. 30: Dunlap Middle School, Dunlap District 323


 


Top 50 elementary schools


No. 13: Wilder-Waite Elementary School, Dunlap District 323 (tied with one other school)


 


Source: Chicago Sun-Times