RPS implements program for low performing elementary schools

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A new state report shows three low performing elementary schools in District 205, so it’s back to school for RPS leaders coming up with solutions to improve the academic environment and in turn, retain more teachers.

The three schools are being called pilot schools, essentially test dummies for RPS 205, but ones that the board is confident will work and help improve academic performance.

McIntosh, Lewis Lemon and Constance Lane are not making the grade, all ranked in the bottom 5% statewide for academic performance. However, a new program could help change that around.

“Their students are ultimately going to experience a stronger sense of belonging and their going to feel a greater sense of accomplishment because it’s going to help accelerate their learning,” said Morgan Gallagher, who is the chief of schools at RPS.

He praises the Safe and Civil training plan, a three-day program to provide coaching and academic support to the stateline.

“I think they do a good job including the parents and everything,” said Latice Richardson, the mother two twins who both attend Lewis Lemon.

She says her children’s academic performance has never been better.

“They treat my kids like their own,” said Richardson, “I feel safe with them there and if there’s a problem, I get a phone call right away.”

Richardson says after the pandemic, it took a little bit for her kids to find their footing in school, but once they did the excitement to go came back. She believes parents play a huge role in a child’s behavior.

“You know how kids are fighting the teachers and stuff, so it’s based on the parents to teach their kids to learn how to act and behave,” Richardson explains.

Gallagher says Safe and Civil training is a 30-year-old program that’s been used in thousands of districts nationwide. He explains how he has spent seven years in Rockford public schools, but the fourteen years spent in Chicago public schools gave him an up close look at the success stories behind the plan.

“A number of schools that demonstrated success in reducing their discipline referrals, reducing in-school suspensions and also increasing their on-track rates for students,” Gallagher explains.

The total cost of this will be $24k but those funds will come from grants and only a small percentage of local dollars.

The district is hoping that raising the academic standards of the three schools will go a long way towards retaining quality teachers. According to the RPS leaders, McIntosh alone lost 14 teachers just in the 2022-2023 fiscal school year.