PSAE Scores Soar at Rich East High School, Top District 227

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The sonic boom heard over Park Forest recently had nothing to do with US Air Force military aircraft. It was one of the many after effects following the release of the Prairie State Achievement {PSAE} Test Scores, which showed soaring improvements from Rich East students.

Over the past two years, Rich East Rockets test scores have doubled in both reading and math, finishing with 60.2 percent and 55.1 percent respectively, which equates to a growth rate of 106 percent in each content area in our Economically Disadvantaged category. This increase puts Rich East at the top of the District 227 schools.

Park Forest students are setting the standard for School District 227.

"This supports our belief that all children can learn and we are a living example of that here at Rich East High School," said Principal Mark Kramer. "Our scores are the highest in District 227 and align with our earlier recognition of having the highest graduation rate and the highest percentage of students over a 2.0 grade point average in the district."

For the 2008-2009 school year, students at Rich East posted a 15.4 percent increase in reading scores and a 14.4 percent increase in math scores.

Rich East has been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a leader in student achievement growth and was asked to provide seminars to other schools that want to emulate the success it has been having.

"In short, we take the responsibility of providing a quality education for the children of the district very seriously," Kramer said. "And, now other school districts in the state have taken notice."

Kramer said he encourages all parents, students and members of the community to get involved and help Rich East students reach the ultimate goal of meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which this year will be 77.5 percent.

"If we experience the same percentage of growth this year as we have enjoyed over the past two years, we will meet that goal," Kramer said. "Our teachers, staff and administrators are committed to that goal. And with everyone’s help, our kids will accomplish something that few schools have ever done." Kramer credited his staff that went above and beyond expectations to ensure student success."

"I am extremely proud to be associated with an organization like Rich East and work with a group of adults who are totally committed to improving the lives of their students," Kramer said. "This is going to be an exciting and successful school year for all of us and we are excited that it is underway."

Kramer also credited the students who took the initiative to take extra time to study for the exam. The students participated in regular PSAE classes during the day and followed guidelines and suggestions from their teachers to ensure success on the test.

"I’m very proud of our students," Kramer added. "They’re the ones who took the tests and did the work. They deserve to pat themselves on the back and to always continue moving forward. They found out that it will all pay off in the end."

District-wide, performances on the PSAE exams increased by 8.6 percent. The rise in overall scores exceeds the State of Illinois’s benchmark growth rate of 7.5 percent, proving that the District is on the right track.

District 227 board member Alyssa Hernandez, a 2009 graduate of Rich East High School, was pleased to see the results, "Rich East’s scores have increased for two consecutive years. Make no mistake Rich East nor any of the other schools made AYP (annual yearly progress a piece of NDLB-no child left behind), however East has made tremendous gains for two years. East has made Safe Harbor for those two years."

"Rich South’s scores did not go up with the 07/08 school year but they did go up in the 08/09 school year. Rich Central did the opposite and went up 07/08 but not 08/09," Hernandez continued. "Rich East and the other schools in the district are making progress in areas that generally do not do well. The black and economically challenged subgroups are performing and meeting test criteria. By no means is the work hard work over, but every gain is a success."

On Friday August 14 Rich East staff had a celebration to kick off the new year. Hernandez attended and said she could feel the excitement from all staff.

"Rich East has realized that it is not just the PSAE or junior teachers that are responsible for the gains," Hernandez said. "Rather, it is a collective responsibility to keep climate up and to all work together to create an environment where learning and success can take place."

School District 227 Superintendent Howard Hunigan also praised the efforts of staff.

"Campus administrative teams and staff worked extremely hard to prepare our students," Hunigan said. "We are looking forward to even greater results in the future."

All schools in the district, especially Rich East, used aggressive strategies to improve scores. These included alignment of the overall curriculum to Illinois State Learning Standards; alignment of core curriculum to the college readiness standards; year-long ACT preparatory classes; also Saturday and after school ACT prep classes; reading specialists, targeted pull-out programs; as well as ACT preparatory workshops for parents.

"Although our ultimate goal is to make Adequate Yearly Progress, we must recognize the significance of these accomplishments," Hunigan said. "It is an indicator that we can do even better in the future."

Added Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning and Accountability, Dr. Donna Simpson Leak: "Out staff and students are moving together in a direction of increased achievement in a systemic manner. We will see even greater gains as we move forward."