Westmont High School - A Brief Review of Some Major Accomplishments 2019-2020
One of the most important learning targets we have for our students that stretches across multiple disciplines is that students should be able to take a position (hold an opinion, create a thesis) and be able to support it with evidence.
Kevin, Megan, Sonia and I have spent many hours and days pouring over school and student performance data from dozens of sources. I have spent 29 years examining school performance data from a myriad of sources and looked at thousands of data points with a special focus on Illinois high schools and top performing schools from throughout the country.
The data shows that Westmont High School is the most improved high school in Illinois and the United States, and one of the top performing high schools in the nation.
Why is this important? Because people who give their heart, soul and talent in a noble cause and attain remarkable success deserve to be recognized. Our students have also done incredible work and by honoring their work and celebrating their success we can continue to build on these accomplishments and attain even greater levels of learning and achievement. Our entire school community deserves to celebrate with us and understand that all the support they have given has been honored with hard work and a genuine commitment to excellence.
Here is a brief review of Westmont High School’s extraordinary accomplishments:
For 5 years (2016) the state of Illinois has mandated that schools complete a survey that gives students, parents and teachers the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback about the quality of their schools.
The 5 Essentials Survey, developed by the University of Chicago, is rigorous, comprehensive and evaluates schools in five focus areas. Unlike standardized tests this survey clearly prioritizes an evaluation on the social and emotional well-being of students, how effective a school is in providing a Supportive Environment and the general health of a school’s culture and climate.
The University of Chicago researchers spent years developing this research and evaluation tool, the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Legislators found it so important that they invested several million dollars on this evaluation and mandate its use, and thousands of schools and tens of thousands of parents, students and teachers have spent hundreds of thousands of hours taking their valuable time to complete this survey.
The survey is very direct and the questions include “I feel safe and comfortable with my teachers at this school,” “My teachers treat me with respect,” “Teachers feel respected by the principal,” and dozens of other very pointed questions. There are 5 major Categories, Supportive Environment, Effective Leadership, Ambitious Instruction, Involved Families and Collaborative Teachers. There are also 40 supplemental categories.
Over the past 5 years the results have been published on the internet at the 5 Essentials website for the whole world to examine and review.
Over the 5 years these surveys have been given, Westmont High School has earned the highest overall score of any high school in the Chicagoland area and has ranked in the top 1% overall compared to all high schools in the state of Illinois. This is a remarkable achievement.
Westmont has the best overall scores of any local high school. We worked this summer to compile and analyze this data, and we have provided a review of the 2019 results as we prepared for this upcoming school year. The state allows schools to use an alternative tool called Advanced ED, but these results are not published for everyone to see like the 5 Essentials results. We continue to gather this research, and just as we were putting our presentation together based on the latest results (we worked during July and August using 2016-2019 data), the state of Illinois released the 2020 data late Friday afternoon on August 14.
We will continue to analyze this data along with numerous other measures and rankings. However, a review of the data from the last 4 years and a cursory review of the 2020 data demonstrates that Westmont High School has the best results of any high school in Illinois when it comes to providing a supportive environment and attending to the social and emotional well-being of our students.
At the same time Westmont High School, based on several national rankings and research tools, is also the most inclusive and rigorous high school in Illinois. These combined achievements require great celebration and recognition.
Westmont High School Awards and Accomplishments
The most improved regular high school in Illinois and the United States in 3 different national rankings systems.
US News and World Report – Westmont is the most improved regular high school in Illinois and the United States in this annual ranking of America’s high schools. This ranking uses 6 to criteria to establish rankings including standardized test scores. We rank number 29 overall in Illinois and number 624 in the country. Our College Readiness Score of 60.1 is far exceeds and other high school likes ours in Illinois (as a comparison, we have six times more students living in economic poverty that Hinsdale Central (60.9) but almost identical College Readiness scores.
Washington Post Jay Mathews Challenge Index – Westmont is the most improved regular high school in Illinois and the United States in this ranking that primarily rates schools based on how well it includes students in participating in Advanced Placement courses (exams). Westmont is currently ranked number two in this ranking in Illinois, number one for regular high schools in Illinois for the second time (2018 and 2020), and number 150 in the United States.
Exemplary – Highest Rating Illinois State Board of Education. Westmont High School is the regular high school with the highest poverty rate to earn this distinction 3 years in a row.
Graduation Rate –Over the last 7 years 99% of students have graduated on time. 100% of African-American and Latino students have graduated with not one African-American or Latino student having dropped out in 7 years. This is one of the best record in American education.
DuFour Award as the Best Professional Learning Community in the United States (2020)
WHS leads its economic sector in SAT scores (State of Illinois mandated state exam), outperforms expectations and outperforms 91 high schools with significantly fewer students living in economic poverty.
Westmont High School has also worked as a team to significantly reduce suspensions (over a 75% reduction) and discipline referrals. Our Freshmen on track rate has been as high as 99%, and we have done significant work on Chronic Absenteeism 9% and one of the best rates in the state of Illinois).
Thank you to the Westmont High School Faculty and Staff for your incredible work.