BYRON (WIFR) – Byron Middle School is one of just 454 schools in Illinois to receive the coveted Academic Excellence Award, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
With nearly 4,500 public schools in the state, the award puts Byron Middle School near the top 10 percent of all public schools in the state.
“This recognition marked the third consecutive year that Byron Middle School has recorded student achievement at 90 percent or greater for students meeting or exceeding rigorous academic standards on the Illinois Standards and Achievement Test,” Byron Superintendent Dr. James Hammack said. “Achievement at these levels is indicative of a comprehensive middle school program.”
Criteria for the Academic Excellence Award is stiff: Schools must have made “adequate yearly progress” in 2011 and 2012 under guidelines set by the No Child Left Behind federal mandate; 90 percent of students must have met or exceeded state standards in both reading an math for the last three school years. Byron Middle School students exceeded those standards, with 96 percent of students meeting/exceeding state standards in reading and math in 2011.
School Board members credited the Middle School staff as well as Principal Steve Herkert for the honor. In addition, they noted that consistently strong performance at Mary Morgan Elementary School means Byron students are well prepared for Byron’s challenging middle school curriculum.
Herkert credited highly dedicated students and a strong feeling of unity among middle school staff as reasons for the overall high level of achievement at the middle school.
“Our students come to this building daily with the right attitude,” Herkert said. “They try hard to impress their teachers, and they are learning the importance of a strong character. And, although it’s a common cliché, we are a family here: Our teachers always put students first, and they take great pride in the everyday victories they see in their classrooms.”
School Board member Carol Nauman said the award reflects a strong community focus on education.
“We feel that the schools and the community are very focused on rigor, achievement and excellence,” Nauman said. “Everyone - administrators, teachers, parents and students – all seem to be on the same page. It feels good to have Byron performing at this level.”