By Michael Romain
THURSDAY–The Chicago Sun-Times released its annual “School Report Card” today. Each year, the Sun-Times’ ranks elementary schools and high schools in the state of Illinois based on the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) annual “School Report Card.” This year, Walter Payton College Prep took the number one spot in the rankings from perennial academic powerhouse Northside College Prep, which had held the top spot for the previous twelve years. Hinsdale Central High School is the highest ranked school in the suburbs and the fourth-ranked school statewide.
The Sun-Times broke down its ranking methodology as follows:
“For a more than a decade, the Chicago Sun-Times has based its exclusive rankings of schools on average scores on state achievement tests, not on the percentage who meet state standards – a measure that has come under criticism.
“Only 2013 reading and math results from the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests and the Prairie State Achievement Exams taken last March and April were analyzed.
“Elementary school rankings are based on schools that tested at least two grades, third to fifth. Middle-school rankings reflect at least two tested grades, sixth through eighth. High school rankings are based on 11th-grade results. A K-8 school could be ranked among both elementary and middle schools.
“The rankings use a statistical method called standardizing to analyze the ‘scale score of every reading and math test statewide.
“The method compares each test score with the state average and creates a school average that’s compared with other schools’ averages. Standardizing levels the playing field in years when one test might be harder to pass than others.
“The rankings include percentiles, reflecting the percentage of Illinois students who scored the same as or worse than the average student at each ranked school.”
According to the data, Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) scores fell statewide from 82.5 percent of students meeting or exceeded state standards to 58.8 percent doing so. The Sun-Times reported that state officials noted that the decline is “due to the fact that the minimum scores needed to pass the test were raised, ‘to align with the more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards and give a better indication of college and career readiness.'”
The average ranking for District 89 elementary schools located in Maywood was about 28 percent–meaning that, on average, Maywood elementary schools ranked higher than or as high as about 28 percent of elementary schools in the state that were ranked by the Sun-Times. Jane Addams, Stevenson and Melrose Park, all located in Melrose Park, ranked 693, 1640 and 1896, respectively. This means that Jane Addams ranks higher than about 56 percent, Stevenson ranks higher than about 35 percent and Melrose Park ranks higher than about 28 percent of elementary schools in the state that were ranked. Roosevelt Elementary, the only District 89 school in Broadview, ranked 1613, higher than about 36 percent of ranked elementary schools in the state.
Proviso East ranked 621 among high schools in the state, which ranks it higher than about 21 percent of high schools in Illinois that were ranked by the Sun-Times. The Proviso Math and Science Academy ranked 124 among ranked high schools in the state, ranking it higher than about 59 percent of ranked high schools in Illinois. Proviso West High School, located in Hillside, is 593 in the rankings, which is higher than about 26 percent of ranked high schools in Illinois.
District 89 and 209 ISBE Performance
According to this year’s ISBE School Report Card assessments, District 89’s overall performance on all state tests dropped precipitously, as did the entire state of Illinois. The drop, as mentioned above, may reflect the fact that minimum passing scores were raised. In 2011-2012, 69.7 percent of District 89 students either met or exceeded the Illinois Learning Standards. This was compared with 78 percent of students statewide who met or exceeded the standards that same year.
By contrast, in 2012-2013, District 89 students who met or exceeded standards was at 39.3 percent, a more than 30 percentage point drop. Statewide, 58.2 percent of students met or exceeded state standards that year, a drop of 20 percentage points.
There was a similar District and statewide decline in student performance on the ISAT exams. In 2011-2012, 70 percent of District 89 students met or exceeded ISAT standards, compared with only about 39 percent in 2012-2013. In Illinois, acceptable student performance dropped from about 83 percent to about 59 percent.
Proviso Township District 209 actually experienced an increase in its overall performance on all state tests. In 2011-2012, only about 29 percent of District 209 students met or exceeded Illinois Learning Standards. In 2012-2013, about 35 percent of students met or exceeded state standards. For students throughout the state, however, there was a large drop in performance. While 78 percent of Illinois students met or exceeded standards in 2011-2012, only about 58 percent did so in 2012-2013.
To read the 2013 ISBE School Report Card for District 89, click here. To read the report for District 209, click here. To read individual assessments of District 89 schools, click here. To read individual assessments of Proviso East High School, click here. VFP