Education

Illinois students are better in math, but English is another matter

Preliminary results are in from last year’s statewide assessment of public school students, although officials were quick to emphasize the “preliminary” aspect of the results. Overall, more students reached “met or exceeded” standards on math; but fewer met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts.

Results are considered preliminary until late October, after all schools have properly vetted that the students do attend the schools recorded, among other final checks.

Statewide, more students met or exceeded standards on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers in math in 2016 than 2015. In five of seven grade groups, more students met or exceeded standards by 1.5 percent to a high of 5.1 percent difference over last year. Seventh and eighth-grade math scores were down by less than half of 1 percent.

In English Language Arts/Literacy, six of the seven grade groups tested were down. For example, fifth-graders in 2016 had 3 percent fewer students meeting or exceeding standards. Only the third-graders improved in 2016, but only by 0.2 percent.

“It’s clear that we have additional work to do in preparing students for what lies ahead,” said Angela Foxall, of the Illinois State Board of Education, which hosted a conference call for media on Thursday afternoon.

The state superintendent said the increased expectations of the post-school world demand readiness.

“Just getting a kid across the stage wasn’t sufficient; were they ready to participate in the world?” State Superintendent Tony Smith said. “A number of kids are not ready for the workforce, and looking at that in high school is really important.”

Smith said high schools could continue to test students using PARCC, even as the state has moved to the SAT for juniors.

“The SAT is meaningful toward the conversation,” he said, and “many high schools that were part of PARCC development will continue to use it.”

ISBE officials said the state would pay for those schools to provide both the SAT and PARCC.

Matt Klosterman, superintendent of Belleville District 118, said his elementary and middle schools have received the individual scores, which they will provide to parents at the parent teacher conferences at the end of the first quarter.

Districts have not yet received the district or school scores. Klosterman said the school principals have looked through individual scores and likely have an idea of how their schools fared.

“They’re looking at individual student scores and doing some calculations in their head, that’s natural for what they do. I just wait for the state,” he said. “Until they (release the final results), it’s all speculation on our part.”

Percentages of students meeting or exceeding standards

English Language Arts/Literacy

Third grade

Fourth grade

Fifth grade

Sixth grade

Seventh grade

Eighth grade

High school

2015

35.3

39.5

38.3

35.4

39.9

40.4

34.7

2016

35.5

36.9

35.3

34.9

37.3

39.1

34.1

Math

2015

34.5

27.9

26.9

27.2

27.5

32.1

18.7

2016

39.6

30.5

31.7

28.7

27.3

31.8

21.8

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