The National Title I Association has recognized Eisenhower Academy in Joliet Public Schools District 86 and Washington Elementary School in Marion Community Unit School District 2 as National Title I Distinguished Schools. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) nominated Eisenhower Academy for the honor based on its exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years. ISBE nominated Washington Elementary School for significantly closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Eisenhower Academy is one of only two schools in Illinois to receive this award this year.

ISBE honored both schools at the annual statewide Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Conference Feb. 11-13 in Chicago. The National Title I Association recognized the schools Jan. 31 at its annual conference in Kansas City, Mo.

“The State Board is proud of and thankful to the educators, leaders, students, and families at Eisenhower Academy and Washington Elementary School for their incredible efforts,” said Jason Helfer, Ph.D., ISBE Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. “The ways in which both schools have built cultures of success for all students is very impressive and powerful.”

(right) Dr. Jason Helfer, Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning at the Illinois State Board of Education, presented the award to (from left to right) Ankhe Bradley, Joliet Public Schools District 86 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Eisenhower Academy 3rd grade teachers Clare Reyes and Jennifer Barker, and Eisenhower Principal Wendy Wolgan.

Title I is the cornerstone of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized in 2015 as ESSA. Title I provides funding for students in schools that serve low-income communities.

One hundred percent of students at Eisenhower Academy are eligible to receive free lunches based on Joliet Public Schools’ overall low-income student percentage. Eighty-four percent of students met or exceeded standards in math on the state’s accountability assessment in 2018, and 82 percent met or exceeded standards in English language arts.

Fifty-three percent of students at Washington Elementary School qualify as low-income. The gap between low-income and non-low-income students demonstrating proficiency on the state’s accountability assessment in English language arts closed by 14 percent between 2016 and 2018. The gap in math closed by 2 percent.

Picture of students and staff from the 2018-2019 school year.