Illinois Honor Roll

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(Adapted from McGee, Lessons from the Golden Spike Schools, 2002)

First and foremost, these schools have exemplary principals who are leaders of learning, who are resourceful, who craft a culture of high expectations, and who model leadership daily. Other commonalities among successful schools: 

  • A hard working, devoted staff that has the highest expectations, demands excellence, and REALLY believes each student can succeed
  • Early literacy programs that focus on prevention and early intervention
  • Policies, programs, and services to include parents in the school and to educate parents in both parenting and in academic skills
  • Access to good nutrition and health care for all students
  • School-wide professional development on a single topic related to school improvement planning
  • Sharing of local and state assessment data and systematic use of that data to improve teaching and learning
  • Frequent celebrations and ceremonies
  • Strong connection to early childhood programs
  • Access to books in the classroom and formal recognition of reading progress
  • Ready access to a host of after school, before school and Saturday programs
  • Summer school for most students
  • Technology used to enhance learning and for analyzing and charting data
  • School improvement plans focused on a small number of improvement initiatives that are embraced, supported, and sustained by the entire school community