Illinois is changing the way it grades its public schools. And maybe when 66 percent, or 2,545 schools, fail to make what is considered adequate yearly progress -- when only 11 of 671 high schools make adequate progress -- the evaluation system is flawed. The grades are as much a reflection on the test as they are the test takers.
But being in a transition period doesn't change the fact that the schools with the best scores -- those 11 high schools, for example -- still have the best student achievement and should serve as models of what works for other districts.
One especially troubling category on the report card is the percentage of students classified as low income. In 1999 it was 36.1 percent. Now it's a whopping 49 percent, or nearly 1 out of every 2 students.
The 49 percent constitutes a failing grade for Springfield's economic and tax policies. Clearly they are not leading our state out of the recession and to prosperity. Most educators will tell you that kids who have to worry about having enough to eat or decent-looking clothes tend not to do as well as their more affluent peers.
So change the test but more importantly, change the policies that are weighing down Illinois.