District 163 Schools Ranked Among Top Schools By Chicago Magazine

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– All five of Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163’s schools that take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) were ranked among the top 300 elementary schools in Cook County by Chicago Magazine.

Based on 2008-09 data, which included ISAT scores, the percentage of students who meet/exceed state goals on ISAT, the pupil-teacher ratio, and the instructional spending per pupil, Chicago Magazine’s web site rankings included District 163 schools: Beacon Hill Primary Center, 21st Century Preparatory Center, Blackhawk Intermediate Center, Mohawk Intermediate Center,  and Forest Trail Middle School.

“While the recent focus has been on educational reform and what public schools are doing wrong, District 163 is making a difference in children’s lives and moving them forward in achievement,” said Superintendent Joyce Carmine. “In contrast to 39 percent of the schools on the list that have less than 10 percent free and reduced lunch enrollment and many others on the list with rates less than 50 percent, our free and reduced lunch enrollment in these buildings ranges from 68 to 84 percent, which presents a challenge. Only one school on the list had a higher free and reduced lunch rate at 94.6 percent. Our students are beating the odds and achieving. We have dedicated and highly qualified staff members who are exposed to the latest teaching methods through our high caliber staff development programs, children who come to school ready to learn and a board of education that is an excellent steward of our funds and ensures that our dollars are spent in the best interests of our students. These elements help to accelerate our children.”

The 2010 ISAT composite score for District 163 is 79.1 percent with math scores that reach beyond 85 percent in the meets and exceeds category. Reading scores topped out at 88.6 percent at Beacon Hill.

“We make every dollar count,” said Dr. Carmine. “Intervention and acceleration programs are in place for our students; classes have access to the latest technology that strengthens the curriculum and broadens students’ exposure to enriching resources; and we constantly monitor class size to maintain small class sizes as much as we are able given the current circumstances of state funding for education.”

Dr. Carmine went on to say, “We have a rigorous curriculum and our students are challenged to meet standards. They are invested in their learning, and their families stress the importance of education. I am extremely pleased with our students’ academic performance.”

Walter Mosby, board of education president, remarked, “This is evidence that with an outstanding leadership team, marvelous teachers and students who work hard and understand the value of  a good education,  we can accomplish great things.  I commend Dr. Carmine, our administrators and our teachers, and, most of all, the parents and students of District 163 on this achievement. It is a job well done!”

Related Cheryl Muench, principal of Forest Trail Middle Grade Center, “We are fortunate to have such devoted staff and hard working students. The efforts of our parents, staff and students are what truly make the difference. Everyone should be proud of this accomplishment and use this honor to remember it can be done even when it appears to be difficult.”

Added Dr. Carolyn Stroud, principal of Forest Trail Junior High Grade Center, “I am very excited and proud of being honored publicly for our academic achievements. It confirms for me that our hard work is paying off and that our staff and students are the best!”