Stephenson High School was named one of the top ranking schools in student achievement testing by scoring 7 to 10 percent higher within their intermediate school district and the state, but a few years ago that was not the case.
"The summer of 2011 was when we were first identified at a low achieving score based upon student performance and test scores. It came as a shock. We spent time looking at data, but not a lot of time, and since this phone call we've formulated leadership teams and data teams," said Jerry Sardina, Principal of Stephenson High School
Sardina said within a year, intervention programs, a different curriculum and a restructuring of teachers was implemented for low achieving students.
"And we've implemented a longer school day. We've added 30 minutes to each school day," Sardina added.
With teachers spending a majority of each school day with their students, they have seen the most progress with the additional changes.
"I've seen students go from a third and fourth grade reading level who are juniors in high school and are at grade level now. There's no substitute when I can see that we're gaining ground," said Peggy Grille, teacher.
Stephenson High School had to make improvements without any additional funding.
As for students, like Conner Cappaert, they said school has become a priority and they enjoy learning.
"I feel that I am very prepared for what's going to happen in the future. I fee like I'm ready to take it head on," said Cappaert.