Only six of Plainfield School District 202's 28 eligible schools made adequate yearly progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
But district officials are heartened by one trend: there have been vast improvements in math and reading since 2004.
According to district data, seven years ago there were nearly 5,800 students tested in reading and math from third through eighth grades and in 11th grade. Of those students, 62.7 percent met state reading standards and 66.3 percent met state math standards.
In 2011, district data shows that of about 15,600 students tested in third through eighth grades and in 11th grade, 81 percent met state reading standards and 87 percent met state math standards.
District data also shows that since 2004, the district has shown progress in both reading and math as more students are enrolled in the district.
Still, the No Child Left Behind Act forces districts to improve by 7.5 percentage points each year and at least 85 percent of students in nine different ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups must meet state standards. Those subgroups are divided into race – white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and multiracial – as well as students who have limited English proficiency or disabilities or who belong in low income families.
If one of the subgroups does not meet state standards, then the whole school is labeled as failing.
Five elementary schools and one middle school made adequate yearly progress. They are , , Liberty, and elementary schools and .
In 2010, 19 schools did not make yearly progress.
Changes in the way schools will be measured will be implemented by 2014-15 and should assess schools by how much they grow, rather than an arbitrary benchmark they have to reach, said Carmen Ayala, the district’s superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Some of the test scores released at Monday’s school board meeting concerned district officials.
For instance, 75 percent of black students met state reading standards two years ago, but only 70 percent met state standards in 2011.
“This is a concern,” Ayala said.
Reading scores for children with disabilities also declined from 49 percent who met state standards two years ago to 42 percent who met standards this year; new state regulations, however, forced some disabled students to take the same test as regular education students instead of an alternative test.
Math scores among Hispanic students dipped 4 percent from 84 percent of students who met standards last year to 80 percent who met state standards this year.
Overall, math scores dropped from 89 percent of all district students who met state standards last year to 87 percent from last spring’s tests. While down 2 percent in one year, it is up 21 percent since 2003, district officials said.
The Illinois Standards Achievement Test is given to elementary and middle school students. The Prairie State Achievement Exam, which includes the ACT college entrance exam, is given to 11th graders.
At the high school level, reading scores for 11th-graders dipped from 62 percent who met state reading standards last year to 53 percent who met standards this year. In math, 65 percent of 11th graders met state standards last year and 56 percent met standards this year.
Students must take the Prairie State Achievement Exam to graduate, and this was the first year the state included test scores of students who were not academically ready to take the exam as juniors, but took it as seniors, Ayala said.
Nonetheless, the district was not pleased with the high schools’ scores, Ayala said.
Looking at other data, including ACT test scores, will help the district see how well the high schools are improving, she said.
“We’re not happy with the scores we have,” Ayala said. “… [But] the Prairie State does not give a true picture of growth.”
Ayala said the district remains committed to improving academic achievement for all students and is implementing new methods to help students succeed.
The district is aligning its common core curriculum and will be continuing to increase its rigor. Students will soon be expected to understand fractions by the third grade and algebra by eighth grade, Ayala said.
Literacy and spelling standards are also going to improve, she said.
Next year the district may need to offer a choice to families in schools that have not made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years so that parents can opt to send their children to a better-performing school.