Mostly F’s on school report cards, but scores are going up
By Dave Gathman firstname.lastname@example.org October 30, 2013 5:14PM
How to get report card info online
To find your individual school’s report card, go to suntimes.com.
Updated: December 1, 2013 8:14AM
As the Illinois State Board of Education releases its School Report Cards for 2012-13 today, they show that no school districts in the Elgin-Dundee-Burlington area have made what the federal No Child Let Behind law defines as “Adequate Yearly Progress” — or AYP — as measured by test scores.
In fact, not a single school of the 85 in Elgin School District U46, Community Unit School District 300 and Burlington Central School District 301 made adequate progress. In St. Charles Unit District 303, just two schools out of 16 made that cut.
As a result, many more schools in District U46 may be headed toward being restructured or getting forced to accept other “corrective action.”
But the northern Fox Valley is hardly alone in this parade of F’s. More than 90 percent of school districts across the state also failed to make adequate progress. A couple small districts in McHenry County achieved the goal — Marengo High School District 154 and Alden-Hebron School District 19.
In the Chicago area, only a handful of districts made the grade, in the affluent neighborhoods of Glencoe, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Lemont, River Grove and Winfield. And only a handful of districts made the cut downstate, all in small towns such as Vienna, Jonesboro and Mazon.
Yet, state and local school officials note, many of the scores have been inching up at least a bit on the annual tests on which the AYP judgment is based: the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, and the Illinois Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE.
It’s just that last year, the state school board drastically raised the test scores each school and each school district must achieve on the ISAT to be considered “adequate.” And the federal government requires that at least 92.5 percent of students — up from 85 percent last year — achieve that score for the school to be considered adequate.
The Report Cards can be found at www.illinoisreportcard.com in two new formats:
An online Report Card provides an interactive tool for exploring school performance data. The tool includes detailed data views and descriptions for each school and district. Users can search by school or district name.
An At-a-Glance Report Card, found on each school’s online Report Card, offers a two-page snapshot that can be downloaded, printed and distributed to local families and community members. It also lists each school’s special extracurricular activities, accomplishments and claims to fame.
U46: More on lists
The biggest concrete impact of the AYP comes in District U46, as numerous schools have been moved farther up the No Child Left Behind-decreed classifications toward being put into “restructuring.”
Last year, U46 already had 10 schools being restructured because of chronically low test scores. Many others were listed as “Choice” schools, meaning that because they failed to make adequate progress two years in a row, parents in those schools can try to reassign their children to a different school.
One other school, Lowrie Elementary in Elgin, was listed as in need of ”Corrective Action.”
Now Lowrie has been targeted for “Restructuring,” too. And 18 schools — one-third of all schools in U46 — have been moved from “Choice” status to “In Need of Corrective Action” status. Those include three of the five high schools (Elgin, Larkin and Streamwood); five of the seven middle schools (Abbott, Canton, Ellis, Kimball and Larsen); and 10 more elementary schools (Century Oaks, Coleman, Gifford, Heritage, Lincoln, McKinley, Oakhill, Ontarioville, Ridge Circle and Sunnydale).
In fact, the only remaining U46 schools that aren’t on some kind of Restructuring or Corrective Action status are Bartlett and South Elgin high schools; Eastview and Kenyon Woods middle schools; and 19 elementary schools, most of which lie outside the Elgin city limits.
In Carpentersville-based District 300, all 25 schools also failed to make adequate progress, because of the stiffer state standard. But because many schools there have a shorter history of failing to meet AYP, no schools changed their No Child Left Behind classification.
Five D300 schools already are being restructured — Carpentersville Middle School plus Golfview, Lakewood, Meadowdale and Perry elementary schools. They remain in that status. And Parkview Elementary, also in Carpentersville, remains listed as a “Choice” school.
In Burlington-based District 301, none of the schools is yet rated as needing restructuring or correction, or as “Choice” schools. But Central High School now is listed on “Academic Watch Year 2.”
Despite the rising state standards, two of the schools in St. Charles Unit School District 303 actually did make adequate progress — Ferson Creek Elementary and Fox Ridge Elementary. Three other St. Charles schools — Anderson, Munhall and Richmond — have failed to meet the test-score standards for enough years that parents are eligible to move their children to a school of choice.
One new statistic parents will see on their Report Cards only in Illinois this year is a measure of “Student Academic Growth.” This tries to measure how well elementary and middle-school students did on their achievement tests last year compared to the previous year.
A score above “100” means the average student improved from year to year. Below 100 means the average scores are going down.
And both statewide and in Fox Valley schools, they are going up.
In reading, for example, the Average Growth Value statewide was 102.1. But it was a healthy 106.6 in District 301, 103.5 in District 300, 108.0 in District 303 and 101.0 in District U46.
In math statewide, the Average Growth Value was 101.4. District 300 students actually slipped a little bit on that score, measuring 99.9. But other area districts outpaced the statewide average, with 102.7 in District U46, 103.6 in District 301 and 106.2 in District 303.
Statewide and in the Elgin area, raw test scores are going up, even if they’re not doing so as quickly as expectations have risen.
State officials think that the ACT college-readiness test taken by high school students is one of the most realistic measures of how well a student emerges ready to attend college or land a job. In fact, a perceived discrepancy between the grade-school test results and the ACT results was largely responsible for the state decision to demand that younger students do better on their tests.
The new Illinois benchmark for being ready for college is a composite ACT score of 21 or above. Statewide, the average last year was 20.3. But all four local school districts did better. The St. Charles district led with a whopping 23.7 ACT, followed by Burlington with 22.2, District 300 with 22.0 and District U46 with 21.2.
Statewide, 58.8 percent of kids who took the ISAT got scores that met or exceeded the new state goal. But the St. Charles and Burlington students did far better, with 77.6 percent and 74.6 percent respectively meeting or exceeding the goal. District 300 students also outdid the state average, with 59.3 percent. District U46 didn’t quite equal the state average but wasn’t far behind, at 56 percent.
The new Report Cards show how many students would have met the goal over the past five years if the new passing scores had been in effect all that time. Statewide, this reveals that the percentage of students who passed would have increased from 55.1 in 2009 to 58.8 last school year.