DANVILLE — Illinois State Superintendent Christopher Koch and Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico toured Danville High School's New Tech High on Friday, visiting with students, teachers and staff before handing out honor roll awards to various school districts in East Central Illinois.
Koch, Chico and state board member and former Danville school Superintendent David Fields gave awards Friday afternoon to 11 schools from nine school districts in Ford, Champaign and Vermilion County for being named to the 2011 Illinois Honor Roll. The schools were honored during a school assembly at Northeast Magnet Elementary School in Danville for their significant progress toward state learning standards.
Prior to the award celebration, Koch and Chico toured Danville High School, including the school's New Tech High, a program that uses a project-based approach to learning in which students gain information and skills by doing multi-layered "real world" projects.
Koch and Chico visited several classrooms and met with two panels of New Tech High students and teachers for discussions about the non-traditional programs at the high school.
Koch said it was good to see New Tech High in person and talk with teachers, staff and students involved with the program. He said state officials want to see more opportunities for customized, project-based learning in schools. Koch said they saw students engaged in learning who interacted using professional skills they've learned in the program that teaches them problem-solving activities and critical thinking. According to state board officials, state board members visit innovative schools across Illinois as they develop educational priorities.
Chico congratulated the 11 schools honored at the assembly for maintaining or improving their academic performance amid rising benchmarks and a tough economy.
"We hope students, educators, parents and community members will celebrate their success because they are the ones responsible for these good and improving results," he said.
The 2011 Illinois Honor Roll recognizes more than 700 Illinois schools for academic progress and in three categories. Spotlight Schools are high-poverty, high-performing schools. Academic Excellence schools have sustained high performance over at least three years, and Academic Improvement schools have improved by at least 7.5 points in test scores between 2010 and 2011, or at least 15 points in between 2009 and 2011.
The 11 schools honored Friday:
Armstrong-Ellis Elementary School
Gibson City-Melvin Sibley Middle School
Gifford Grade School
Prairieview-Ogden North Elementary, Royal
Prairieview-Ogden South Elementary, Ogden
Bismarck-Henning Elementary School
Catlin High School
Northeast Elementary Magnet School, Danville
Hoopeston Area Middle School
John Greer Elementary School, Hoopeston
Thomasboro Grade School