Athletic Eligibility

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

The Rockford Public School District is trying to hook kids on school and it’s using extra-curricular activities to reel them in. The Rockford School District's Education Committee addressed athletic eligibility.

The statistic that might have promoted some changes to athletic eligibility is this, 47% of incoming freshmen and sophomores in the district are ineligible to participate. The Education Committee signed off on a new contract. It addresses students who don't get a 2.0 GPA. They would be placed on probation and given 6 weeks to improve. During that time the student will undergo three 55 minute tutor sessions a week.

Rockford Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson says, "This is basically for kids who are just below the bubble whose organizational skills are keeping them from succeeding."

Athletic eligibility applies to any student who competes. So it's not just geared towards athletes. But many still think athletes are getting too much special treatment. Jake Henry used to volunteer in the district.

He used to tell kids, “Do your best and nobody will knock you. Now it seems do the best you can and if you are in sports they'll give you an extra kicker."

One statistic shows that ninth grade students need that same extra kick. Half don't have enough credits to move onto 10th grade.

Education Committee member Dorla Bonner states, "How many of those children in those percentages will actually play sports. Very small. Very, very small. Most will continue to fail cause there is nothing assessable, nothing that's this targeted."

Dr. Thompson says that will change. He states, "We're eventually going to move to higher standards for all children."

Parents would be responsible for getting kids to their tutor session. That would mean school would start one hour earlier at 8:30 a.m. when most other students have a zero hour. The changes to the athletic eligibility will head to the school board next Tuesday for a final vote. The board needs to approve this next week to get this in place before the 1st day of school on August 24.

Meanwhile, results from State Standardized Tests will be delayed throughout Illinois. Area school districts have seen preliminary figures but can't come out with the results till September. The tests were given to third through eighth graders to see if schools are meeting federal requirements.


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