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PINCKNEYVILLE — Once upon a time, Pinckneyville Community High School was listed as one of the "lowest performing schools in the state," with a "very small percentage" of its students being considered college ready.

The release of a State Report Card last week on this district and others, reflects that Pinckneyville has made great strides in preparing its students for their next educational pursuit, said the school's principal, Dustin R. Foutch.

"We are very pleased with the growth that has been demonstrated in our student achievement over the last several years," he said via email. "In 2012, we were listed as one of the lowest performing schools ...

"I am very proud to say that in 2017, our students performed right with the state averages in reading and math and we also performed very well when compared with schools of similar demographics in our geographical area. I was also very pleased that we have reduced the number of our graduates that are required to take remedial coursework when they enter college."

This marks the first year that the report card reflects the state-administered results of the SAT, which state officials opted to use to measure proficiency in language arts and mathematics. Results from that test are used to indicate whether 11th grade students "partially meet," "approach," "meet" or "exceed" academic performance standards. The percent of the SAT deemed proficiency is a combination of a school's percent of students who "meet" and "exceed" performance standards.

Overall, students' scores improved in English language arts achievement on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment, the four-year graduation rate, college enrollment rates, Advanced Placement participation and success, the community college remediation rate, ninth-grade students on track to graduate, and eighth-grade students passing Algebra I, according to a news release from The Illinois State Board of Education.

The state averaged 39 percent of its 11th graders "meeting" or "exceeding" academic standards on the ELA and math tests, based on results from the new SAT testing. Statewide, 87.1 percent of freshmen were on target; 87 percent graduated from high school within four years; and 51 percent of graduating seniors were college ready (meaning they scored a 21 or higher on an ACT test).

In 2015, more than 50 percent of Pinckneyville High School students were enrolled in remedial post-secondary coursework, he said; that rate has now been reduced to 25 percent, with only 2 percent of the district's students needing to take remedial reading courses after they graduate.

"When our remedial coursework percentage is compared with the state average of 47 percent," Foutch said, "it shows that we are doing an excellent job of preparing our students for post-secondary success."

In Benton, students have the opportunity to dual-enroll in college courses through a partnership with Rend Lake College, the school's superintendent, Aaron Mattox, said.

The high school's college readiness rate is 42 percent and its graduation rate is 82 percent. Some 81 percent of its freshmen were on track.

"The challenge that the district has faced is improving academic achievement while trying to balance the resources that are available to promote college and career readiness for all of the district’s students," Mattox said. "Benton High School has implemented SAT preparation courses to help prepare students for testing and has put in place a student incentive program to help maximize academic achievement."

He said the district also partners with the Franklin County Vocational Cooperative to offer students more vocational opportunities.

For other districts, the college readiness of their student body is reflected at:

• Anna-Jonesboro HS: 42 percent college readiness; 91 percent of freshmen on track; 91 percent graduation rate; and 32 percent proficient, SAT.

• Benton Consolidated HSD 103: 42 percent college readiness; 81 percent of freshmen on track; 82 percent graduation rate; and 23 percent proficient, SAT.

• Cairo USD 1: 16 percent college readiness; with 83 percent of freshmen on track; 73 percent graduation rate; and 6 percent proficient, SAT.

• Carbondale CHSD 165: 71 percent college readiness; 87 percent of freshmen on track; and an 85 percent graduation rate; 40 percent proficient, SAT.

• Carterville HS: 73 percent college readiness; 90 percent of freshmen on track; 94 percent graduation rate; and 54 percent proficient, SAT.

• Du Quoin: 36 percent college readiness; 91 percent of freshmen on track; 92 percent graduation rate; and 32 percent proficient, SAT.

• Harrisburg: 24 percent college readiness, 88 percent of freshmen on track; 81 percent graduation rate; and 20 percent proficient, SAT.

• Herrin HS: 40 percent college readiness; 89 percent of freshmen on track; 88 percent graduation rate; and 33 percent proficient, SAT.

• Marion: 61 percent college readiness; 76 percent of freshmen on track; 84 percent graduation rate; and 29 percent proficient, SAT.

• Murphysboro HS/CUSD 186: 40 percent college readiness; 89 percent of freshmen on track; 85 percent graduation rate; and 28 percent proficient, SAT.

To view your district and other school's results reflected on the state's Report Card, visit the documents online at

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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