edn feb 2020

DIETERICH — The annual state report card gave Dieterich School District exemplary ratings for its junior-senior high and elementary schools, maintaining the level earned in the 2017-2018 school year.

“Exemplary” is the Illinois State Board of Education’s highest designation for a public school, which is performing in the top 10 percent of all schools. Multiple measures of school performance and growth determine a school’s designation. Those receiving the designation are high schools with graduation rates higher than 67 percent and schools with no underperforming student group, according to ISBE.

Dieterich Junior-Senior High School falls into that category. The school’s graduation rate went from 97% in 2017-2018 to 100% in 2018-2019. That rate is consistent, according to Superintendent Cary Jackson.

The number of graduating seniors in the district enrolling in college was 75%, exceeding the state average of 74%. The number of high school students in the district taking early college coursework in grades 10, 11 and 12 was 31% while the state average was 37%.

During the past two school years, attendance in the district has also remained steady at 97%.

“I feel our parents and community value education and regular attendance,” Jackson said. “Attendance seems to be a priority with our parents.”

Between the 2017-2018 school year and 2018-2019 school year, the district saw a reduction in chronic absenteeism, which is defined by the report card as students who miss 10% or more of school days per year either with or without a valid excuse. In 2017-2018, the rate of students who fell into that category was 11%. In 2018-2019, that figure dropped to 6%. Jackson couldn’t pinpoint the reason for the change.

“In a small district such as ours, a small number of students can affect the numbers, “ he said. “It is possible that students that were chronically truant in years past are no longer living in the district, or have graduated.”

The high school didn’t fare as well academically.

High school students taking the SATs scored 26% proficiency for English Language Arts, while the state average was 37%. The students also scored 26% proficiency in mathematics, below the state average of 35%.

The previous year in 2017-2018, the district achieved 37% and 43% in English Language proficiency and math respectively. The state average for English Language proficiency was the same percentage and for math was 34%.

The scores are based on an assessment test taken in the spring.

According to Jackson, these fluctuations happen from time to time.

“Each class is assessed and some test better than others,” he said. “It’s hard to compare this year’s class to last year’s.”

The report card showed enrollment was up in the district.

Between the 2017-2018 school year and the 2018-2019 school year, the enrollment in the district went from 512 to 523. According to Jackson, enrollment has risen even more to 565 students currently. Jackson attributed the increasing enrollment to North Pointe and Hartke subdivisions drawing in more families.

The enrollment increase resulted in a slight decrease in the instructional cost per student, according to Jackson. That cost went from $5,011 in 2017-2018 to $4,960 in 2018-2019.

However, Jackson noted operational costs continue to rise.

A new evidenced-based funding formula directs new state dollars that become available first to the school districts that need them the most. Thanks to the funding formula, the district will be able to add aides, bring back programs and reduce class sizes, he said.