The number of Riverside-Brookfield High School juniors who met or exceeded state standards on the 2005 Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) rose slightly compared to last year, marking the third straight overall increase in scores.
Some 75.4 percent of RB juniors last spring met or exceeded state standards on the PSAE, compared to 73.5 in 2004. That’s up from the 69 percent figure the school posted on the PSAE in 2002.
“Overall we’re happy we saw increases again in math and science,” said RB Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann. “There was a slight dip in reading, but that’s still an improvement of the previous couple of years.”
The school has made dramatic strides in its math scores on the PSAE since 2002, when just 62 percent of students met or exceeded state standards. In 2005, 75.9 percent of all students met or exceeded state marks. RB saw a similar trend in science, with the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards since 2002 jumping from 63.1 percent to 75.2 percent.
“That’s a 14-percent jump in math,” Baldermann said. “We’re really focused on that, and it’s a pretty significant increase.”
In reading the improvement was only slightly less impressive, with the number of students meeting or exceeding standards going from 66.8 percent in 2002 to 75.5 percent in 2005.
The PSAE is the test by which the Illinois State Board of Education measures compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. And according to the school’s state report card released last week by the ISBE, Riverside-Brookfield High School has met all of the requirements for measuring adequate yearly progress under NCLB.
Baldermann was quick to point out, however, that as the school’s enrollment continues to rise, RB may have to watch closely the performance of students in various “subgroups.” NCLB was made law with the promise by federal legislators to make sure all children meet or exceed certain education standards.
In addition to looking at a school’s total population, school’s must also break down student achievement by subgroup”along ethnic/racial and socioeconomic lines as well as targeting students with disabilities.
But since none of those subgroups at RB reached the state’s threshold level of 45, their performance was not figured into the school’s rating for adequate yearly progress. Of the 296 students tested at RB in 2005, 240 were white, six were black, 40 were Hispanic and 29 were students with disabilities.
“A smaller school does have an advantage,” Baldermann said.
In the school’s largest subgroups, RB saw mixed success. While it’s Latino students would have met or exceeded state standards under NCLB guidelines, it would not have fared quite as well with students that have disabilities.
In reading, 61.3 percent of Hispanic students met the state benchmark, and in math 58.1 percent met state standards.
However, just 30 percent of students with disabilities met state standards in reading, while just 25 percent met state marks in math. That was a major improvement from 2004, when just 20 percent of students with disabilities met state standards in reading and 0 percent met them in math.
“I attribute the jump to a concentrated effort to get students prepared to succeed,” Baldermann said. “We really tried to focus on test prep more than ever.”
Baldermann lamented the fact that the PSAE judged different groups of students each year, giving no indication of any progress that may have been made over time.
“You could get great improvement in a student with disabilities, still not meet state standards and look like you’ve failed that student,” Baldermann said. “If there was some kind of standardized test students took when they came in as freshmen and you measured growth over three years, that would be a more interesting indicator.”
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