PPS shows progress with four schools moving up a designation, two-thirds of schools experiencing growth
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released the annual Illinois Report Card, which provides a detailed look at each school’s progress on academics, student success, school culture and climate, and financial investments. Peoria Public Schools has prioritized student growth and has shown progress with two-thirds of all schools in the district experiencing growth in ELA or Math in the last year.
As a result of those improvements, four schools in the district moved up a designation on the Illinois Report Card, including one school – Kellar Primary – receiving Exemplary status. Three other designation improvements also occurred, with Whittier Primary and Thomas Jefferson Primary moving to Commendable status and Calvin Coolidge Middle moving from Lowest Performing to Underperforming. No schools in the district experienced a downgraded designation.
“We are committed to all students growing academically and growing in strength of character as a result of attending our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat.
Peoria Public Schools continues to invest in new ways to serve our students in order to educate the whole child and to prepare students for careers in the 21st Century. To emphasize a district-wide focus on literacy and reading at or above grade level by third grade, a re-designed literacy framework was implemented at the K-5 level that is supported by new reading resources and bolstered by an influx of reading books to schools and classrooms. Through the generous donations from our community and through our own investment, the addition of these books is aiding us in our goal of eliminating barriers to daily reading and positioning our students to stay on track in the early stages of their education.
At the high school level, numerous dual-credit career pathways and internship opportunities have been established in order to provide experiential learning for students.
A select group of students are currently accelerating their learning by participating in the D2 Program, which will allow them to graduate high school with a diploma and an Associate’s Degree at no cost to the student. This year, grant-funded programs totaling up to $7 million, such as the 21st Century program, Lights On, Peoria and the Full Service Community grant, will target students in need of more support with meaningful learning experiences outside of the traditional school day.
“Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) is filling a variety of needs in Peoria Public Schools, including expanding technology, hiring teacher aides and helping to cushion the impact of negotiated salary raises for the district’s teachers,” said Desmoulin-Kherat.
Harnessing the power of modern technology should be the bedrock of a quality education in the 21st Century, and Peoria Public Schools has a goal of being one-to-one, where a computer or tablet is provided for every student. Thanks to the Evidence-Based Funding stream, Desmoulin-Kherat said, the district is much closer to that goal after purchasing about 1,400 tablets in the past year to ensure students have the technology to access the modern world.
Providing more academic and social-emotional supports in the classroom for students was also a top priority for Peoria Public Schools. Desmoulin-Kherat said the district invested EBF dollars into adding additional SEL supports at the elementary and middle schools, including aides and specialists in the field.
“As we continue to boldly address an outdated educational framework, we are exploring ways to re-imagine learning in our schools,” she said.
To take the 27 schools in the district into the next five years, a diverse group of staff, working side by side with a cross section of stakeholders, have embarked on the process of crafting a Strategic Plan that will chart the course of Peoria Public Schools’ future. In the coming months, community meetings will be held to engage in a dialogue and collect feedback on how to re-imagine education in Peoria Public Schools. Community input will be highly valued as the district transforms learning experiences to reflect students’ mastery of the 21st Century skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
The evolution of Peoria Public Schools in the coming years will continue to build on the progress and growth demonstrated by the district’s students.