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District 218 high schools named among best in Illinois

By Michelle Zalesny

Alan B. Shepard High School, Harold L. Richards High School and Dwight D. Eisenhower high schools were ranked among the top 100 high schools in Illinois, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“This is really, really positive thing for District 218 that our schools are recognized as the best in the state of Illinois,” said Dr. Sue Feeney, assistant superintendent of special services and instructional engagement, during the Year End Highlights Presentation at the District 218 School Board meeting last Thursday at Richards High School.

High schools are ranked in the annual U.S. News & World Report list based on how well the schools prepare students for college and their performance on state-required tests. Shepard High School in Palos Heights, with a graduation rate of 81 percent and college readiness of 24 percent (the district average), ranked 2,148 in the national rankings and 68 in Illinois, earning a silver medal.

Richards High School in Oak Lawn, with a college readiness of 24 percent and a graduation rate of 83 percent, ranked 1,974 in the national rankings and 62 in Illinois, earning a silver medal.

Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, with a graduation rate of 80 percent, scored a bronze medal and ranked 86 in the state. To receive a silver or gold medal, high schools must have a college readiness index of 20.91 or higher. High schools that achieved a bronze medal were not ranked in the national ranking.

The Year End Highlights Presentation also marked various accomplishments throughout the school year for both students and teachers — most notable the foreign language department was awarded the Arts and Foreign Language Implementation Assistance Grant in the amount of $75,000.

“This was used for professional development for our teachers, some online assessments and supplies like headsets for our Foreign Language department,” said Dr. Josh Barron, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

District 218 is also currently rolling out a PD2020 initiative that aims to increase student independence. The long term initiative is meant to improve instruction in the classroom.

A video was shown of LRC teacher Kim Borgia and English teacher Gia Mallet of Shepard High School as an example of impacted instruction that focused on student ownership in the classroom to bolster student independence.

The lessons focused on “The Catcher in the Rye” as the primary text for a research assignment. The video highlighted the use of scaffolding lessons.

“One of the ways we want to improve our student achievement is to focus on professional development with our teachers,” said Barron.

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