Kennedy Middle School is the winner of a five-year, $5.6 million grant designed to significantly improve student performance. The Illinois State Board of Education awarded five highly competitive School Improvement Grants in December, and the Rockford School Board formally accepted the grant for Kennedy tonight. Find the complete grant application.
Officials from RPS 205, the Rockford Education Association and staff from Kennedy Middle School worked with the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) to apply for and secure the grant. The School Board also approved a contract tonight with CEC, a non-profit national leader in supporting labor-management collaboration for school improvement. CEC works intensively with grant-winning schools and districts to implement effective, research-based strategies to transform school leadership, teaching and learning, student non-academic support, and family and community engagement. CEC will work with RPS 205 to ensure the improvement will continue even after the grant term ends.
The ISBE grant comes through the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Title I Act. According to State Superintendent Tony Smith, grants are awarded to schools “that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement level of students in their lowest-performing schools.”
The grant provides a framework for multiple levels of student support: engagement, behavior and academics. Officials are in the planning stages now. They will present to the State Board in June to maintain funding for the July 1 implementation and the following four years.
The grant should lead to significant change, thanks to additional resources and collaboration that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. “I’m extremely confident it’ll drive an increase in student achievement,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “I’m also hopeful we can take what we learn from Kennedy’s success and drive innovation in other schools that face similar challenges.” Grant money will be focused in four areas:
- curriculum and instruction
- parent and community engagement
- student non-academic support
- increasing time for collaboration and instruction
Jarrett lauded Kennedy staff for their work and dedication to the grant process. As grant finalists, a team of 10 staff represented Kennedy at the Illinois State Board of Education, along with Jarrett and REA Vice President Paul Goddard. Illinois State Representative Litesa Wallace served as the community member to support RPS 205 in its application. Learn more about the grant and application.