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Sandwich schools receive 'commendable' designation from state

Sandwich School District 430's six schools have been designed as Tier 2 or "commendable" by the Illinois State Board of Education's 2017-2018 report cards released Wednesday, Oct. 30.

"Commendable" is defined by the state as, "A school that has no underperforming student groups, a graduation rate greater than 67 percent, and whose performance is not in the top 10 percent of schools nationwide."

A school's tier ranking is determined in part by evidence-based funding model, approved by the General Assembly and signed into law in August of 2017. The new method of funding Illinois schools is intended to make the process more fair, by measuring each district in more than 30 categories, and placing each district in a tier to determine their amount of funding over the basic state minimum allocation. Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools, including Sandwich schools, receive 99 percent of additional allocated funds.

According to the state report card, SSD 430's adequacy target, or the cost of educating students as determined by ISBE, is $26,068,081. Currently, SSD 430 is at 67 percent of its adequacy target, or just over $17.5 million.

Separate from financial resources, a school's designation is also determined by two metrics: academic indicators, and student success and school quality indicators. Academic Indicators include math and ELA (English Language Arts) proficiency, ELA and math growth, high school graduation rates, and English Learner proficency. Student success and school quality Indicators include chronic absenteeism, climate survey, and college and career readiness.

SSD 430 Superintendent Rick Schmitt confirmed that the Tier 2 Commendable designation has no impact on the funding the district receives from the state.

Schmitt said he was "not satisfied" with the state's Tier 2 designation for the district.

"While we are pleased with all Sandwich CUSD 430 schools receiving a Tier 2 ommendable designation, we are not satisfied," Schmitt said. "I believe no school district is ever satisfied, as school improvement is continuous and systemic."

Schmitt said the designation reinforces the positive things the district does on a daily basis.

"These commendable designations reinforce the great things our learning community does on a daily basis, all the way from our students, to our parents, to our staff and administrators, to the positive support the school district receives from teh community and stakeholders as a whole," he said. "Our partnership is critical to the success of our students; and together, our communities can encourage all students to rise to their greatest potential."

Schmitt encouraged parents to visit the district's redesigned website, to examine the "District Dashboard," which "ties together what we do each and every day with the many successes our learning community experiences."

"The Board of Education places much emphasis on the importance of ongoing professional development for all staff, along with the importance of a collaborative teaching and learning environment," Schmitt said. "Going forward, the Tier 2 Commendable designation validates the positive things we are doing, but also reminds us that there is still room for improvement...The reality is that a change in subgroup populations for any school, including our own, could create a change in the summative designation in the future."

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