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Most Dist. 202 Schools Don't Meet No Child Left Behind Standards

One official says district 'not happy' with test scores; on the positive side, overall math and reading numbers continue to improve.

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.

Tina Saenz Garcia August 18, 2011 at 02:40 PM
I agree w/everything you have written except that the teachers are forced by building administrators to do this . . especially in tough times we are in because if not they will be reprimanded or even not asked to return the following year if they are not already tenured.
Sheila Raddatz August 18, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I have mixed feelings about our school system. Maybe if we weren't so cash strapped, we would have have a different school system. It just seems that we are pressing so hard to help the kids that aren't making the grade and penalizing/holding back on the kids that are doing well. (Our district provides kindergarten tutors--seriously! Get off the couch parents and teach your kids the ABC's and stop using district money--excuse me while I vented here).
Annabelle Howard August 18, 2011 at 05:21 PM
At the risk of appearing like nothing but an "uninformed" self-promoter . . . dare I add a comment about my online CMT games that helped 17,000 CT kids this year? I will. The data is phenomenal on how much these games help children. Educational solutions can sometimes come from out-of-town. I do not live in Plainfield, but I am based in CT. What is unusual about my approach is that our system gives every kid access to every game (math, math vocab, comprehension, editing, science vocab, etc) AT EVERY GRADE LEVEL! So, kids are free to go up or down a level, as needed, skill by skill. Students are literally choosing to self-remediate. The system empowers kids to catch up and/or get ahead. I am a life-long teacher who has taught in 3 countries. I see that attention spans are shorter and have developed these games to be very student, parent, and teacher-friendly. Yes, I do need to earn a living, "my conscience," and I also genuinely work to be a part of the solution. The Official CMT League can be Googled :)
Local Boy August 19, 2011 at 01:25 AM
That's great Annabelle that you live in Connecticut, but this article is talking about the Plainfield in Illinois. I hope you realize this and that you know it is not about Plainfield, CT. If you don't, then you are "uninformed."
Annabelle Howard August 19, 2011 at 05:25 PM
Dear "my conscience" and "Local Boy," I sincerely apologize for trespassing on your patch and am very sorry for upsetting you both. I do not wish to offend. I did indeed mistake your town for one in CT. An honest mistake made in haste. However, my400words is based on the Common Core State Standards and is relevant for a national audience. I have spent a lifetime in education, first as a teacher, then as a writer, and now as an entrepreneur. I am truly doing my best to be a part of the solution. I have never once engaged in spam (sent unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately). I do, however, personally invest my time via social media sites to engage, learn, and inform as best I can. This will be my last post on this thread. I offer sincere apologies and good wishes to you both :)

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