By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Dewey Elementary School in Quincy has been recognized as a "Spotlight School" by the state of Illinois for the 10th straight year.
The Illinois State Board of Education noted in a press release Monday that Dewey has earned the distinction of being the only Illinois school to be named a "Spotlight School" every year since the state started its Honor Roll program in 2003.
Seven other Illinois schools received the designation for the ninth time this year.
Statewide, the ISBE named 105 schools as Spotlight Schools. This award recognizes them as "high-poverty, high-performing schools that are beating the odds by overcoming the achievement gap."
Krista Finklea, principal of Dewey Elementary School, said she was delighted to see Dewey win the award for the 10th straight year.
"I am profoundly excited," she said.
"It's all because of the wonderful staff I have in my building and the support of the families that have students here at Dewey and the hard work of the students. It seems like we're a family here and we work together. I'm really proud of everybody."
Finklea said State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch is tentatively scheduled to visit Dewey School on Feb. 25 to make an Honor Roll presentation to the school.
One requirement to earn Spotlight School status is that a school must make "adequate yearly progress," which means at least 85 percent of the school's students must pass state achievement tests in reading and math. At Dewey, 88 percent of the school's students met the testing standards in 2012, even though 71.4 percent of the student population came from low-income homes.
Finklea said as the state proceeds with plans to adopt "common core" standards statewide, it may become "extremely tough" for schools to make AYP next year because the state is raising the testing standards for elementary schools.
"So we're going to enjoy it while we have it," she said.
The only other area school earning Spotlight School status was Nauvoo Elementary School, where 91 percent of the school's students met or exceeded testing standards. The school has a low-income population of 51.4 percent.
The ISBE also announced Monday that 454 schools in Illinois won "Academic Excellence" awards in the Honor Roll program, meaning they sustained high performance for at least three years, while another 81 schools earned "Academic Improvement" awards for showing substantial improvement.
None of those schools are in the four-county area of West-Central Illinois covered by The Quincy Herald-Whig.