A year ago, Komarek School District 94 Superintendent Neil Pellicci had mixed emotions about the results of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).
The school had just achieved its highest-ever scores on the standardized exam, but according to the state, Komarek School was failing, because students with disabilities didn’t hit state benchmarks in reading. As a result Komarek School didn’t meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), according to the federal No Child Left Behind law.
And with the benchmarks for hitting AYP becoming more stringent in 2011, Pellicci had some concerns.
“With them raising the cutoff [for AYP] at 85 percent [of students meeting state standards], we were concerned,” Pellicci said.
But the news is better in 2011. ISAT scores in reading and math remained high and the school achieved adequate yearly progress, Pellicci reported last week.
According to Pellicci, 86.9 percent of all students taking the ISAT in March met state standards in reading, while 90.2 percent met standards in math. That compares favorably to last year’s numbers of 86.4 percent in reading and 90.9 percent in math.
But the district’s students with disabilities fared much better in 2011 compared to a year ago. In both reading and math, the number of students meeting state standards jumped 10 percentage points.
“There was a more concerted effort on behalf of our resource teachers to focus on things that needed to be taught and incorporate them more into their program,” said Pellicci.
While it’s unclear just how much of an impact it had on test results in 2011, Pellicci noted that the district added 30 minutes of instructional time to the school day in 2010-11.
“That became an enrichment period for reading, math and writing,” said Pellicci. “I think that helped students, especially those on the edge [of hitting state standards]. It helped push students up to the point where they were successful.”
Komarek School has a diverse student population with sizeable minority enrollment. In 2010, Hispanic students comprised 32 percent of the student population, while black students were 17 percent of the total enrollment.
In 2011, the number of Hispanic students meeting state standards in reading fell from 85 to 84 percent. In math, the drop was from 90 to 87.1 percent. The number of black students meeting state standards in reading in 2011 fell slightly from 75.4 to 73.8 percent. However, the percentage of black students meeting state standards in math rose from 78.9 to 80.3 percent.
“We’ve developed a program where, as soon as a student comes in, specialists meet with them to do assessments,” Pellicci said. “Since our class sizes are pretty small, we get a good picture of a child pretty quickly. That’s made a huge difference.”
D94 is also contemplating instituting a concept called MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing this fall, which will allow district officials to assess students early in the school year and have results from those assessments almost immediately.
Computerized MAP testing has been instituted in both Riverside District 96 and Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 in recent years.
“We’re going to implement it, hopefully, this year,” said Pellicci. “The biggest problem is [technological] infrastructure. By mid-September we’re looking to make a decision.”