It was hard for Lyons School District 103 Superintendent Dr. Ray Lauk not to smile when he released his district’s 2004-05 report card last week. The report card showed the number of students meeting state standards had improved a great deal over the past year.

“This shows how hard our entire staff throughout the district has worked,” Lauk said. “It also shows that the plan in place is working.”

The district’s performance on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), used by the Illinois State Board of Education to determine compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, improved throughout the district from 63.1 percent of students meeting standards in 2003-2004 to 69 percent in 2004-05. That puts District 103 slightly ahead of the state average, which is 68.9 percent.

At George Washington Middle School in Lyons, overall state test scores improved from 59.4 percent to 61.7 percent last year. The ISAT scores also shot up from 58.6 percent to 60.8 percent.

Despite those improvements, GWMS did not make Adequate Yearly Progress according to NCLB because of that school’s scores in eighth-grade math. Just 45 percent of the school’s eighth-graders met or exceeded state math standards. Meanwhile, just 37 percent of the school’s Hispanic eighth-graders met state standards in math.

At Lincoln Elementary School in Brookfield, however, the statistics were impressive, with the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT rising from 62.8 percent to 75.8 percent.

Reading scores on the ISAT for third-graders at Lincoln School jumped 13 percent, with 74.6 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards, compared to 61.7 percent in 2003-04. Meanwhile, fifth-grade math scores skyrocketed by nearly 33 percent. In 2003-04 just 57 percent of fifth-graders met state standards in math. On the 2005 ISAT, that number rose sharply to 89.7 percent.

“Our staff has been dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help our students grow in the classroom,” Lauk said.

The numbers increased despite the fact the average teacher salary throughout the district was 44 percent lower than the state-wide average.

The teacher salary in the district was $38,449 in 2004-05, compared to the state average of $55,558. The district in May cemented a new three-year contract that will increase teacher salaries by over 20 percent over the next three years.

The report card showed that the demographics of the district also have changed over the past seven years. In 1998, 85 percent of the students were white. That number fell to 47 percent last spring.

“When you have different demographics, you are dealing with different social issues and backgrounds,” Lauk said. “It’s a challenge for your staff to adjust, but we have done a great job doing that.”

Hispanics, who make up 47 percent of the student body at Lincoln School, fared well on the ISAT. In third grade, 84 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded state reading standards, while 89.5 percent met standards in math. In fifth grade 55.5 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded state reading marks, but 92.6 percent met state standards in math.

One area that Lauk was encouraged by was the fact that most of the same students are returning to the district year after year.

“In 2002 when the district was first talking about a referendum, 27 percent of our enrollment changed from one year to the next,” Lauk said. “That is a lot, and it’s tough on our teachers.

“New students come in, and sometimes it takes a while for the teachers to get up to speed as to where a certain child stands in a particular subject. But last year that number dropped to 18 percent, and hopefully it continues to drop.”

? Bob Uphues contributed to this report.