PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its annual report card for 2023, and it is filled with room for optimism as well as improvement for Peoria Public Schools.

The report card grades each public school in the state on a variety of factors, including graduation rates and teacher retention rates. It acts as a progress report, showing how schools and school districts are doing compared to how they did in the past.

The data for Peoria public schools shows improvement in several key areas, including graduation rates and freshmen being on track to graduate in 4 years.

For District 150 superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, the data also shows there is still work to be done.

“We do have a lot to celebrate, understanding that we’re not satisfied until every kid is reading at grade level and everyone graduates on time,” she said.

Out of the 25 schools in District 150, one school was graded as “exemplary” and 11 were graded as “commendable”. The other schools were graded as “targeted”, “comprehensive”, and a new category for this year, “intensive”. One school, Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center, was left ungraded.

Desmoulin-Kherat said one of the areas in need of the most improvement is that of chronic absenteeism, which, at 41%, is 13% higher than the state average. She said the district is working on creative solutions to the issue.

“We think outside the box and really love innovating and coming up with new ideas, so we’re excited about an opportunity to come up with some new strategies to improve that,” she said.

Some positives from the report include the fact that fewer teachers are leaving the profession, as the retention rate went from 78% in 2015 to 88% in 2023. PPS also had its highest graduation rate in over a decade, from 65% in 2015 to 81% in 2023. They also saw improvement in English/language arts and math proficiency.

While there are plenty of positives, Desmoulin-Kherat believes the district needs help from all involved in order to make even more progress.

“All hands on deck, working collaboratively to ensure that all of our children are educated and that they are prepared for a great future,” she said.

Desmoulin-Kherat also was happy to share that the three high schools in District 150 received grades of “commendable”. Dr. Maude A. Sanders Primary School also went from being considered in the lowest 5% of all Illinois schools to being graded as “commendable” this year.