DANVILLE — Jan Mann spent 34 years teaching kindergarten at Edison Elementary School. While that may have been long enough for some, Mann said she jumped at the chance to return to the Danville school district a couple years ago to tutor Northeast Elementary Magnet School students in language arts.
"I just love teaching children and helping them learn. And Northeast has been nice enough to let me come back and have fun," said Mann, who's now in her third year of tutoring.
Northeast officials said the assistance provided by Mann and retired teacher Nancy Henderson and former teacher Kim Sovine last year is one of the reasons the school was able to meet Illinois' learning standards in 2012.
"That's getting more difficult to do each year. That's why I'm so incredibly proud of them," Principal Cheryl McIntire said of her students and entire staff.
The 2012 test scores, released Friday, show that Northeast met the state's adequate yearly progress target of 85 percent in both reading and math under the federal No Child Left Behind Act last year. And Cannon Elementary School met the target in math.
The Danville school district as a whole and its other schools failed to make adequate yearly progress. However, officials said they were pleased that overall, students showed improvement.
According to the scores, 62.9 percent of students in the district met or exceeded the state's reading target, up 2.1 percent from 2011. And 70.1 percent of students met or exceeded the math target, up 1.9 percent from the previous year.
"There was growth. Of course we'd like to see more," said Diane Hampel, director of the district's educational support programs.
At Northeast, 90.4 percent of students met or exceeded the math benchmark, down slightly from 90.9 percent in 2011. And 83.5 percent of students met or exceeded the reading benchmark, down from 85.5 percent the previous year.
While the reading score was slightly below the 85 percent target, Superintendent Mark Denman said when the state factored in its 95 percent confidence interval formula, it was determined that the score met the guidelines for adequate yearly progress.
Hampel pointed out the same applied for Cannon's math score. At that school, 81.3 percent of students met or exceeded the reading benchmark.
So "Cannon made AYP in math," she said. "And Cannon's subgroups (black students and low-income students) made Safe Harbor AYP targets in both reading and math."
This year, Northeast will continue initiatives in place to help more students meet and exceed learning standards, including using retired teachers like Mann to work with students individually and in small groups, McIntire said. She, data instructional facilitator Patti Rull and teachers will continue to analyze data from student assessments to help drive instruction and help determine what interventions and enrichment activities need to take place.
"That process has become really refined at Northeast," McIntire said, adding it ensures that the educational needs of all students, from those who are struggling to those who are ahead, are being met.