WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illini West Exceeds State Benchmark

Jan 30, 2012

Illini West High School is exceeding a state standard for special education students.

The State of Illinois wants schools to place at least half of their special education students in general education classes for half the school day.

Just two years ago, the high school had only 30% of those students in regular classes. The district rate is up to 56%

Superintendent Kim Schilson said the district decided to start evaluating special education students during their first semester at the school.

She said, “When you had the old K-12 districts and you knew the kids since they were five years old you knew pretty much where they stood. But when they come to Illini West, we're seeing them for the first time so we have to have more accurate data as exactly what level they're at when they come to high school.”

She said the evaluations showed that more students could succeed in the general education classes. One of the keys to their success is proper evaluation of their abilities.

Schilson said the district is seeking more accurate assessments of students before they enter high school The district will cooperate with elementary districts that send their students to the high school

Illini West's turnaround was so dramatic the state decided to monitor the school's progress for one year instead of the usual two years.

Schilson said the district goal is to increase the number of special education students in general education classes. She said those students have more opportunities when they are exposed to new ideas they might not experience in special education classes.