by Michael Wille
Opened in the fall of 2010, Peoria Quest Charter Academy is one of the charter schools in Illinois transforming the educational landscape. Students here outperformed both District 150 and the state on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). It’s no wonder that they had 186 students on their wait list for the previous school year. In addition, the school’s third annual lottery held in March saw more than 300 students enter their names in a lottery for only 83 available spots. Put another way, for every one student who won, three were turned away. The demand for more learning alternatives is alive and well in Peoria and all across Illinois. See the Illinois Policy Institute’s latest report, to which I contributed, Unchartered territory: Downstate and suburban families lack school alternatives.
There’s a mission to the work at Peoria Quest Charter Academy, a focus on ensuring children are well equipped and prepared for a career or college.
The results speak for themselves:
- 79 percent of students meet or exceed the ISAT standards
- 95 percent student retention each year
- 96.7 percent attendance
- 0.9 percent truancy rate
- Quest low-income students outperformed District 150 low-income students on every single state test measure
A longer school day and a longer school year allow teachers to develop a richer curriculum for students. Rigorous courses focusing on math, science and technology are at the center of the school’s academic program. Assessing student potential and abilities every 6-9 weeks allows teachers to revise their courses to fit individual needs.
Quest teachers strive to instill in their pupils the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a 21st century economy. Students are rewarded with field trips and placements on the honor roll when they demonstrate success in their work.
A strong commitment to parental involvement both in and outside the school has created a system that functions as a partnership between families, teachers, students, principals, and staff. Parents can check student grades, homework, attendance, tardiness, and discipline records with an account and password supplied by the school. School culture has become paramount here to ensure that students are kept on track to graduate.
The “no excuses” mentality of the staff ensures that every student receives a high-quality education. The Quest model is exactly the type of school that parents in other communities throughout Illinois should have the option of choosing.
To learn more about the work the Illinois Policy Institute is doing to advance education reform in Illinois please read our latest report, Unchartered territory: Downstate and suburban families lack school alternatives.