Rock Island High School Wins $6M Grant - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Rock Island High School Wins $6M Grant

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A six million dollar grant is about to make a world of difference at Rock Island High School. 

The school is one of four in the state to win a federal grant to improve education in schools that are consistently under-performing on state tests.  

In the last three years, the school's test scores have scored in the 30th percentile for 'meeting or exceeding expectations,' well below both the district and state average, usually at around the 60th or 70th percentile. 

The school also hasn't met ‘Adequate Yearly Progress' for No Child Left Behind since 2007.  

They're hoping to use this grant money to turn those numbers around.  

"It's an exciting opportunity for Rock Island High School," Principal Tim Wernentin says of the grant. 

"You'll see teachers with a bigger toolbox with instruction to kids," he says, "Our hope is that they'll be able to meet the needs of every student in their classroom." 

The school is using its six million dollar grant to hire six new teachers, bringing class sizes down by three or four students where some currently have up to 35.  

"We're able to provide services for all of our students, not just the lower performing [students]," Wernentin says. 

They'll also add three specialized staff: a data coach to identify student weaknesses, a reading specialist to improve curriculum, and an academic advisor for freshmen to help keep kids in school.

"We know if they fall behind their freshmen year, they're more likely to drop out so this will look at the academics of our freshmen students," Wernentin says. 

The money will also pay for more teacher training, AP test fees, and more career and college advising services for students.

"There are programs we'll be conducting for all of our students so everyone will reap some benefits from this grant," Wernentin says. 

It will also go towards physical improvements, like providing smart boards, iPads and Chromebooks for students, a professional library for teachers, and a newly remodeled entryway-- all for a brighter outlook for Rock Island High School. 

"So students and parents can walk in and say, ‘Wow this is Rock Island High School," Wernentin says. 

This is all starting immediately; the district is already putting out job listings for new positions and putting together a planning committee to oversee all the changes. 

They're also in the midst of planning those extra training sessions for teachers.