Kids are back in class in the Rockford area. They're also starting up fall sports. Four years ago, Rockford changed who can be a student-athlete.
It all comes down to performance,not just on the playing field, but in the classroom. If you're passing five of your classes, you can play sports in District #205.
"If they have an 'F,' or even a 'D' with some specific classes like math, they have to go to mandatory tutoring," says RPS #205 Athletic Director Mat Parker.
The pass-five policy has been in place since 2011. It aims to give students the positive experience of playing high school sport, even if they're struggling in class. When tracking how successful pass-five is, the district looks at things like participation, GPA and who's taking harder classes. 13 News obtained results from the past four years.
In the 20-11/20-12 school year, the average GPA of a student-athletes was 2.5. Today it's 2.6. Collectively, the figure is better than non-athlete's average GPA, which is 2.15. But, there's one problem-- we can't compare these numbers to years before pass-five was in place. The district says it doesn't have that information.
"[The data was] unreliable before [pass-five,] in my opinion, as far as athletics goes. A lot of the data wasn't tracked at all," Parker says.
What we do know is the old requirement for student athletes was a 2.0 GPA minimum; something the district believes hurt students.
"Instead of what was happening before, taking arbitrary classes that were easier, now student athletes are taking a higher rigor of classes."
Data shows for student-athletes, there's a more than 60% jump in Advanced Placement enrollment.
"That leads them to become scholarship qualifiers and prepare for college," Parker explains.
But, some data is left out of this tracking process, like student-athlete graduation rates.
"I'd love to see that, but we only have a certain amount of people working on this data and we only have a certain amount of quality control as far as this data being entered."
Another factor that's been left out in the past-- who's going to college after high school? But, RPS is working to provide that in one way that it can.
"We are starting to track scholarships... We're not running reports yet. We're capturing how many of our student-athletes are qualifying, what types of scholarships they're qualifying for," Parker adds.
Meaning as kids improve their grades and their athletic ability, the district's also improving the ways it measures their success.
District #205 says it will gather athletes' graduation rates for 13 news. We'll keep you updated.