Murray Elementary wins Illinois Spotlight Award
By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Murray Elementary School recently received its second Illinois Spotlight Award. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) gives the award to schools with high poverty rates that are closing the academic achievement gap.
Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., is one of 37 schools in the state to earn the 2013 Illinois Spotlight Award. In order to win the award at least half of the students enrolled must be classified as low-income, the schools must have made adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the past two years — in this case 2012 and 2013 — and at least 60 percent of students must have met or exceeded state standards in both reading and math on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in 2012 and at least 50 percent of the students must have met those same standards in 2012 and 2011.
“It is a combination of parents and teachers and their incredible cooperation that has helped our students succeed,” said Greg Mason, principal at Murray. “The parents are supportive of the school and the teachers are supportive of the students and that’s what makes the learning come alive.”
According to state records, in 2013 about 51 percent of the students who attended Murray were classified as low-income, which means they received free or reduced cost lunch; the school made AYP in 2012 and 2013 and 90 percent of its students met and exceeded state standards in reading and math in 2011, 89.7 percent met and exceeded the standards in 2012 and 69 percent met and exceeded the standards in 2013.
While it appears that Murray’s ISAT numbers took a dive in 2013, that is not the case. In 2013, ISBE raised performance expectations to improve alignment of ISAT scores with the more rigorous Common Core State Standards that are now being implemented. These higher expectations raised the thresholds between different performance levels such as “below and meets,” also known as cut scores, which resulted in a downward shift in the number of students meeting or exceeding reading and math standards statewide. If the state would have continued under the old cut scores Murray’s 2013 scores would show that 90 percent of its students met or exceeded state standards in reading and math.
To see the full list of 2013 ISBE honor roll winners, visit ilhonorroll.niu.edu.