Skokie Schools Ranked Among the Best
Chicago Magazine ranks the top Cook County schools and some Skokie schools make the list.
Chicago Magazine recently released the rankings for the top elementary schools in Cook County and some Skokie schools made the cut.
According to the rankings, Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School is the top elementary school in Skokie, beating out the other local schools it is ranked number 33 for all of Cook County.
"We are pleased to see that recognition and we believe that many more of our schools are doing things well than what we tend to see in the public," said Pat Markham District 65 communication director.
The rankings are based on a cumulative score and a school accumulates points from three categories, which are all weighted differently. The category with the most weight is the percentage of students who meet state standards for the ISAT, or exceed those standards. Next is the amount of teachers in the building to the amount of students, not necessarily the student to teacher ratio in one classroom but how many adults in the building are available to any one student. The category that holds the least weight is the amount of "instructional spending" per child.
Based on these scores, Fairview South Elementary School comes in as the second best Skokie school listed at number 55. Compared to Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School, Fairview spends $6,653 per student, which is about $1,300 less than what Bessie Rhodes spends. However, the two schools had almost the same percentage of students meet or exceed state expectations for the ISAT.
"It's exciting to be ranked 55," said Lyndy Massoth, a fifth and sixth grade science teacher at Fairview. "Our building is constantly undergoing strategic planning, we're always reviewing our curriculum."
One common thread among the top Skokie schools is standardized tests. The schools take at least one test twice a year and teachers and administrators review and analyze these scores to assess student growth and comprehension.
"That gives us an immediate feedback, 'am I challenging them enough, am I giving them the level of work they need to do?'" said Andrea Smeeton, sixth grade social studies teacher at East Prairie Elementary School.
East Prairie placed third among the Skokie schools and spent almost $1,000 more per student but 90 percent of the students met or exceeded the ISAT, compared to Fairview's 91.7 percent and Bessie Rhode's 94 percent.
Even though scantron tests have been around for awhile, Smeeton said she received specific training on how to use the scantrons to pinpoint skills a child might lack.
"It's more effective to get to them quickly," said Smeeton. "I love it because it's only one way to see a child but it's great."
Of the Skokie schools, District 68 had the most schools make the list. Devonshire Elementary just made the top 100 coming in at number 99, Old Orchard Junior High ranks 109 and Highland Elementary finished at number 196 just behind Jane Stenson at 194. According to District 68 Superintendent Frances McTague they also use scantron data to tailor a child's education.
"We get those tests results back, we aggregate the data to identify students who are not meeting performance targets and they write specific achievement goals for students based on that data," said McTague.
The teachers said that the recognition is a win for the students and is especially important for teachers to see that their efforts are paying off.
"Our district gives us so many ways and opportunities to help these kids not only succeed but go beyond what they thought they could," said Smeeton.