ROCKFORD (WIFR) – There are thousands of students in the Rockford Public School District and today we got an update on how the district is doing and where RPS is moving in the future.
Running a district with 47 schools and 28,000 students isn’t easy, but there’s some momentum building in Rockford Public schools.
Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett highlighted positive changes like high school career academies and a better attitude.
“I just can’t say enough about how much the community and the business community in particular has stepped up to the plate and helped the Rockford Public Schools,” said RPS School Board President Ken Scrivano.
There still is room for improvement, like preparing kids for college, starting at the pre-school level.
“Just over 80% of our students are receiving early childhood experience and we don’t want to rest until it’s closer to 100% because we feel like that early investment is such a great return on investment for the community,” said Jarrett.
Jarrett says 93% of students who read above grade level in third grade continue to read above grade level throughout school. Another goal is to have all students get at least a 20 in math and reading on the ACT.
“They have specific measurable targets that they’ve put in place. I’m not sure that’s always been shared with the business community.
So we see the numbers on how they want to perform better but we see the benchmarks they’ve set for how they’re going to hold themselves accountable,” said Rockford Chamber of Commerce President, Einar Forsman.
Community members say there’s room for even more progress.
“Higher graduation rates, we’d like to see higher test scores, we’d like to see lower number of discipline issues.”
The district is really focusing on the college and career readiness, but right now only 40% of RPS students are ready. Rockford University is helping the district get more kids to local colleges. It has pledged $2 million a year in scholarships. The president of Rock Valley also spoke today about continuing to connect high school students with college and careers.
Dr. Jack Becherer says he wants RVC and RPS to continue to work closely together. They’ll be expanding their Advance Now program in the fall to offer 340 seats . The Dual Credit Program allows high school juniors and seniors to take college career courses in things like manufacturing and health careers.
"If you don't see yourself as wanting to be a student for four or five more years after high school, this is a great way to determine if there's a career for you, leading to a great job in our community,” said RVC President Dr. Jack Becherer.
RVC will also be offering college-level math classes in the fall for students at Jefferson High School. The idea is to better prepare them, so they’re not taking remedial classes in college.
High School Career Academies are in full swing for all grades at Jefferson High School. All grades at all remaining high schools will experience the academies next year.