The State Board of Education honored 624 schools for academic progress and consistent high performance in 2012 by naming them to the Illinois Honor Roll.
4,000 public and charter schools vied for recognition, but a large portion of the 624 schools that made the list are from the northeast corner of the state.
Regional Superintendent of Schools Matt Donkin explains some of the difficulties schools face in sparsely populated areas.
"Its a lot easier to access services in those densely-populated regions then it is down here," Donkin says. "You may only have five kids, but you have to hire the same tutors for the five kids as you would for the 20,000 or however many kids (in other areas)."
Donkin says finances play a role in keeping good teachers in southern Illinois, because they can possibly find a bigger paycheck somewhere else.
Counties in the Metro-East area had multiple schools on the Honor Roll List. Wayne County also has three schools on the list. Franklin, Johnson and Massac each have one each, while no other county has any.
One school that did make the list from Franklin County, one that made both the Honor Roll and the Illinois Spotlight School list, which honors schools in high-poverty areas that perform well, was on the verge of a teachers strike just a few weeks ago.
Teachers and school administrators from Ewing-Northern grade school reached an agreement on a new contract January 11th.
School Superintendent Kristin Ing says the contract negotiations weren’t as big as a distraction as you might think.
"Our top priority is the students, so our goal was the students no matter what," Ing says. "When we stepped into the school, it was business as usual, and we have to make sure kids learn."
Ing says she wants to emphasize the teachers ability not to let the contract discussions affect their teaching.