Editorials

Let money follow kids, let schools compete and then scores will rise

How did Belleville District 201 teachers help students top state average test scores?

Director of Student Services Melissa Taylor said in District 201, typically low-scoring groups of students surpassed the state averages this year on the new standardized test called the Partnership for Assessment for of Readiness for College and C
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Director of Student Services Melissa Taylor said in District 201, typically low-scoring groups of students surpassed the state averages this year on the new standardized test called the Partnership for Assessment for of Readiness for College and C

Now that we’ve parked the PARCC student achievement test for high school students, the final test results are in and there were some outstanding achievements made public Monday. Go figure.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is going away next year for high school testing because so many Illinois high schools did so poorly last year and complained so loudly about the test. The SAT will replace it for high school students in the spring.

Belleville High School District 201 did fantastically on the PARCC English language arts. Three out of four students met or exceeded the standards compared with a little more than one in three statewide. High achievement in English held up across racial, economic and disability lines because the district’s educators worked together to close those achievement gaps.

Math was disappointing, with one in four Belleville high school students meeting or exceeding the standards.

But the English scores demonstrate that the right focus and support make a difference. You shouldn’t have less of a shot at success because you were born with dark skin or learn differently or live in the wrong ZIP code, especially when public education is funded by all of us.

None of the students in Brooklyn can meet the state math standards. Whose fault is that?

The answer is a long list of multiple choices in which “all of the above” is correct. But let’s start with school funding.

State lawmakers tried and failed again this year to remake the way taxes are distributed to schools. The current system sets a standard cost of $6,119 to educate a kid per year and is supposed to add more state money to schools that can’t generate that much in property taxes per student.

Well, the system is rigged in favor of Chicago schools. In 2013 they took the lion’s share of the $500 million in special state subsidies intended to fix property tax disparities, leaving downstate schools with 3 percent of the money.

Want to raise achievement scores? You could keep changing tests, or you could start with a level financial playing field that encourages educational excellence.

Time to empower parents and let them put their offspring and a fair share of tax dollars in whichever school is doing the best job.

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