QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools have the highest truancy rate of all area school districts and the lowest average attendance — two areas already being targeted by the district.
Those are two of the key findings in the Illinois Report Card released this week by the Illinois State Board of Education.
Quincy Superintendent Roy Webb says the district's Attendance Adds Up campaign aims to address the issues.
“We should be at 95 percent attendance, and we should be able to cut our truancy rate in half,” Webb said. “It's not a high school issue, not a junior high issue. It's really pre-K-12. We have kids that are gone, kids that are truant. We're working with parents, working with community organizations to make sure education and coming to school is a priority in all of our households.”
Boosting student attendance is important, especially at the high school level, in all districts.
“Kids cannot learn if they're not at school,” Brown County Superintendent Vicki Phillips said. “If they're not here, we're not able to teach them. That's our job — to teach them.”
Phillips says the Illinois Report Card is a yardstick for measuring school districts statewide.
“It gives me an idea of according to one set of metrics, this is where our students stand,” Phillips said. “It's not the end all, be all, but it does give me a piece of information about the health of the district.”
The annual report card shows the performance and progress of schools, districts and the state overall on a wide range of educational metrics.
Report cards compare each school district to the state, such as how Brown County's average attendance compares to average attendance statewide. But looking at the report cards also allows for some comparisons across districts in West-Central Illinois.
Among districts in Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike counties, Liberty has the highest attendance rate while Quincy has the lowest. Central has the highest graduation rate, while Pleasant Hill has the lowest. Brown County has the highest average teacher salary, while Dallas City Elementary has the lowest, and Illini West has the highest average administrator salary while Mendon has the lowest.
Phillips has not made district-to-district comparisons for herself yet, but she will.
“To a certain degree, it helps to know where I stand in comparison to my immediate neighbors for different items,” she said. “That piece of information on teacher salary is important when you're having contract negotiations like Quincy is. We will go through that this summer.”
Quincy ranks second in average teacher salary in Adams County, but “that's not saying a lot. The whole county pays pretty low,” Webb said.
“I do some comparisons, but a lot of times I will look at similar districts to us. Sometimes the comparison is not fair to look at us and a district of 600 kids or 1,00 kids when we have 6,700,” Webb said. “I like to compare us to Alton, Decatur, Moline.”
With a new school funding formula statewide, “the idea is to use more funding to make our salaries more competitive,” Webb said. “With a teacher shortage, it's tougher and tougher to recruit. We're going to have to figure out a way to compete for teachers coming out of Illinois State, WIU and other colleges.”
Administrators and teachers say the information on the report cards is important.
“We are making real progress,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said in a news release. “Our educators and educational leaders are diving into the data to uncover what's working and to identify new strategies and partnerships to support the whole child.”
The reports provide another resource for the community.
“It's a snapshot of our district every year. I think our community members should go and see how the school district is doing,” Webb said. “You're going to see good things about Quincy Public Schools and see the areas we need to improve.”
Statewide highlights from the 2017 Illinois Report Card include:
More information about the report cards is available online at isbe.net/ilreportcarddata.