News

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2013

State Board of Education releases new school and district report cards showing student and school growth in new streamlined format


Local district and school averages reflect higher cut scores to better indicate college and career readiness

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) unveiled a new Report Card today (Oct. 31) showing that under higher performance levels for the state elementary test, students have made continued progress over time as well as from one  year to the next. Eleventh graders also posted improved scores on the state’s high school assessment which includes the ACT college admissions test. The new School and District Report Card provides more information about student learning, reflecting the statewide move toward more rigor in the classroom and higher performance expectations at an earlier age to ensure Illinois K-12 students are on track for success in college and the workforce.

“The data we’re releasing today provide a better picture of student and school growth than ever before,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We’re no longer providing just a snapshot of student performance but offering something more akin to a video of ongoing progress toward ensuring that every public school student in Illinois is prepared to succeed in college and careers.”

The new School, District and State Report Card, developed through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), aims to help drive community and family engagement with more transparent and easy-to-understand metrics. The report card can be found at illinoisreportcard.com in two new formats:

Among the key new metrics on this year’s Report Card is “Student Academic Growth” by elementary school and district according to a new growth model using value tables that shows how much academic progress students have demonstrated from one year to the next in reading and math. Education experts believe this approach will improve understanding of student learning and provide a more nuanced accountability system than simply the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards on one state test.

The statewide average K-8 Student Academic Growth score for math is 101.4 and 102.1 for reading. Student Academic Growth scores are being reported on an advisory basis, not as part of the state’s accountability system. Schools that score below the average are not meeting the state average growth, and those scoring above are exceeding the average growth for a school.  In 2013, 1,823 schools (63 percent) have shown positive growth in reading and 1,620 schools (56 percent) have shown positive growth in math. 

The growth score simply indicates the average amount of growth for students in a district or school and adds more context to other metrics.

Statewide averages released in September showed the statewide composite for elementary students meeting and exceeding standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) dropped, going from 82.1 in 2012 to 61.9 in 2013, if science is included.

The State Board raised expectations - or cut scores - on the ISAT’s math and reading proficiency expectations for the ISATs, given to third through eighth graders, to align with the more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards and give a better indication of college and career readiness. The Board has not yet adopted new science standards and therefore has not raised performance expectations for the science portion of the ISATs, administered to 4th and 7th graders only. The State Board is currently considering adoption of the internationally-benchmarked Next Generation Science Standards.

The 2013 State Report Card lists the composite percentage of students meeting and exceeding for ISAT math and reading only (not including science) and a five-year analysis of past performance under the new cut scores show that the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards increased from 55.1 in 2009 to 58.8 in 2013.

The percentage of students who met or exceeded ISAT math standards alone during that same five-year timeline increased from 55.3 percent to 58.7 in 2013, while the percent of students meeting or exceeding reading ISAT reading standards went from 54.8 to 59 in 2013.

The ISAT science composite score alone went from 79.8 in 2012 to 80.0 in 2013.

The composite score for the PSAE, given to 11th graders, increased from 51.3 in 2012 to 51.9 in 2013, if science is included. In order to provide a fair comparison between the tests, ISBE is posting  the 2013 PSAE composite meets and exceeds percentage for math and reading, 53.3, on the State Report Card.

Performance level cut scores for the PSAE were not raised as the test includes the ACT. A new metric, “Ready for College Coursework,” refers to the percent of students at each high school who earned a combined score of at least a 21 on the ACT college admissions test. Statewide, 45.7 percent of Illinois public school students from the Graduating Class of 2013 posted at least a 21 on the ACT.

“This year’s performance on state tests can’t be viewed in isolation but as part of an unprecedented amount of change and higher expectations that educators, families and policy makers have taken on to better prepare students for the world that awaits them after high school,” said State Board Chairman Gery J. Chico. “I know that it’s a lot of new expectations and it’s difficult to see school scores decline but we needed to give families a better indication earlier on of college and career readiness. Students are still learning and hopefully, in new and more engaging  ways under the Common Core Learning Standards which emphasize that students not only master content but can demonstrate their understanding, along with critical thinking, problem-solving, writing and other important skills.”

At the same time, today’s data show that the population of Illinois schools has changed dramatically in the past decade with nearly 50 percent (49.9) of all students classified as low-income in 2013, with, according to a new demographic data, two percent of those students statewide listed as homeless, defined as not having permanent and adequate homes in their school district. Additionally, minority enrollment in 2013 tipped to nearly half of all students at 49.4, due largely to the growth of the Hispanic student population.

The At-a-Glance Report Card also features the academic courses, career development courses and programs, athletics, school awards, physical education, health and wellness and other programs and activities that make each school unique. Families can learn, for example, that students can find dual enrollment courses, the girls’ softball team won a national title and that the school runs a local small business internship program. Through data on the online report card, they can also find detailed information about each school’s specific offering of advanced courses such as AP classes and International Baccalaureate programs.

Also, on this year’s report card, families can find link to each school’s summary responses to the first statewide learning conditions and school climate survey, administrated last spring.  More than 70 percent of all teachers and eligible students across Illinois took part in the inaugural survey.

Illinois’ NCLB waiver remains under review with the U.S. Department of Education. The federal education agency has indicated that the only barrier to approval of the Illinois waiver application remains the state’s timeline for when districts must use student growth in their new local teacher evaluation system. The U.S. Department of Education is calling for all districts to implement new evaluations in 2014-15, but Illinois law calls for a progressive phase-in from 2012-13 to 2016-17 when all districts must use the new evaluation system.

Illinois is a member of the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) that is developing a new generation of tests aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards to better measure students’ knowledge, skills and growth. The new state tests are expected to be available by the 2014-15 school year.

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