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Locust school in ‘spotlight’ for its success

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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com )
Keilee Geier, 7, of Marengo reads a book Friday while in class at Locust Elementary School in Marengo. Locust Elementary in District 165 was the only school in McHenry County to be honored as a Spotlight School by the state.

MARENGO – District 165’s Locust Elementary School was the only school in McHenry County recently honored by the state for having its high-poverty student population achieve high academic success.

The Marengo school was one of only 105 schools across Illinois named to the Illinois State Board of Education’s Spotlight Schools list for 2012.

The list is part of the state’s annual Honor Roll, which recognizes schools for various achievements.

The Spotlight Schools needed to make adequate yearly progress and have at least 50 percent of the student population in poverty.

“We really get it done in this district,” District 165 Superintendent Lea Damisch said. “I really have dedicated teachers, support staff and educational leaders in both our schools that really focus on student learning.”

The yearly progress metric is a federal benchmark that requires 85 percent of students to meet or exceed standards in core subjects such as math and reading.

Damisch commended her staff and teachers for maintaining the school’s tradition of high academic achievement in the face of changing demographics around Marengo.

The school qualified this year as a Spotlight School because it went over the 50 percent poverty threshold for the first time.

Locust Elementary has made adequate yearly progress for four consecutive years.

The Illinois State Board of Education called the Spotlight School’s criteria rigorous, especially because schools have been facing more stringent federal achievement standards during the past five years.

In 2008, the state honored 499 schools as Spotlight Schools. The 105 schools recently bestowed with the honor are the fewest since 2004.

The state also recognized eight area schools for academic excellence.

More than 450 schools across the state received the honor for sustaining high academic achievement for at least three consecutive years.

Glacier Ridge, Indian Prairie and South Elementary in Crystal Lake School District 47; Prairie Grove Elementary and Junior High in District 46; Fox River Grove Middle School in District 3; Lincoln Prairie Elementary in Carpentersville District 300; and Landmark Elementary in McHenry School District 15 all were Academic Excellence schools in McHenry County.

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