News

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2013

‘State Board Spotlight’ Shines on Urbana District


School district representatives invited to State Board of Education meeting to discuss their achievements

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education welcomed members of Urbana School District 116 to Springfield during the Board’s January meeting last week as part of a new State Board Spotlight program honoring successful and innovative education programs. District representatives shared their 21st Century Community Learning Center grant achievements, including a reduction in the achievement gap.

“The new State Board Spotlight gives us an opportunity to recognize districts, schools and educators for great achievements and share those successful practices with others across the state,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “The Urbana district is an excellent example of stellar performance.”

For the first time in 2012, Urbana District 116 saw the graduation rates for black students, at 90 percent surpass the rate, at 88 percent, for white students. Closing the achievement gap or difference in performance levels between white and minority students, is an important goal for all districts and schools. In addition, in every grade tested for the 2011-12 Discovery Education Assessments in reading and math, 84 percent of students in the district showed average to above average growth.

In addition, Urbana High School was awarded the U.S. News & World Report Bronze Medal in the 2010 and 2012 reports of “America’s Best High Schools.” UHS was also named to College Board’s AP Honor Roll in 2011 and 2012 for increasing both access to AP courses and participation by minority students while maintaining or improving the percentage of students scoring a 2 or higher on AP exams.

“Our program is an effort to provide quality after-school programs to our elementary, middle and high school students. We have done this through creating exemplary programs for our students,” said Dr. Preston Williams, District 116 Superintendent of Schools. “We are more than happy to share what we have learned, point out our success to others and are proud and honored to share this with ISBE.  We thank you for this opportunity.”

With grant funds, Urbana District 116 implemented the 21st Century Community Learning Center program called SPLASH (Students Playing & Learning After School) at Urbana Middle School. At UMS, 55 percent of regular SPLASH attendees report better grades this year than last. And 89 percent of regular SLASH attendees agree with the statement that they can do almost all the work in their classes if they don’t give up. The Urbana District has also expanded after-schools programs to other schools in the district, including at the high school and elementary level.

Last fall, State Board member Dr. David Fields of Danville visited the Urbana District and toured the after-school program at Urbana Middle School with ISBE staff. 

“The Urbana district’s after-school programs are truly impressive,” said Fields. “The district offers such a great array of sessions to engage students and keep them passionate about learning outside the classroom.”

At the State Board of Education meeting, Urbana District 116 presented a video highlighting their after-school programs and recent academic achievements. Watch for the video and photographs from the presentation on ISBE’s State Board Spotlight page located at http://www.isbe.net/board/html/spotlight.htm. Additional schools, districts and educators will be honored with the State Board Spotlight at future board meetings.

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