A year after elementary schools throughout the state saw their students’ performance on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) plummet due to changes in cut scores and the introduction of Common Core standards questions into the exam, the waters calmed in 2014.
Most elementary schools serving students from Brookfield saw scores rise slightly in 2014, which is the final year the ISAT will be given to students in Illinois. Beginning in the spring of 2015, students will take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test, which is based entirely on Common Core standards, which Illinois has adopted.
Congress Park School, which is part of LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, saw the number of students meeting state standards on the ISAT rise from 64 percent to 66 percent.
Other schools seeing a hike in ISAT scores year over year were Hollywood School (District 96), which saw a jump from 75 percent to 85 percent, and Brook Park School (District 95), where 77 percent of students met state standards in 2014 versus 75 percent in 2013.
“I think, as a district, we shifted our curriculum to focus on Common Core standards, so I think what we were assessing was what we were working to target with our instruction,” said Terry Dutton, principal of Congress Park School.
Congress Park continued to lag behind other District 102 schools in terms of the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards. Where 63 percent of Congress Park students met state standards in reading and 68 percent met that standard in math, 79 percent of all District 102 students met state standards in reading, while 82 percent met them in math.
The school also continues to be the most diverse demographically in the district, with a sizeable Hispanic population (32.3 percent) and black population (13.1 percent). As a district, Hispanic students make up just 14 percent of the student population, while black students make up just 6.1 percent.
Dutton said that it’s hard at this point to predict just what the data will show next year after students take their first PARCC exam. The test will be completely different in that it will be conducted entirely online; no more filling in circles with a pencil.
The exam features such concepts as comparing two texts, which will have students toggling back and forth between texts on a computer screen in order to answer questions. It will also ask students for short responses in justifying their answers
“I’d describe the test as entirely different,” said Dutton. “We have no idea what the data will look like.”
Meanwhile, at Lincoln School in Brookfield, which is part of Lyons-Brookfield District 103, the number of students meeting state standards on the ISAT fell for a second straight year, from 49 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2014.
Both the 2013 and 2014 composite ISAT scores for Lincoln School were lower than the district as a whole, where 50 percent of students met state standards both years. However, neither the school nor the district performed up to the state averages. In both 2013 and 2014, 59 percent of students across Illinois met state standards on the ISAT.
At Lincoln School from 2013 to 2014, the achievement gap between white students, who make up 30 percent of the enrollment and Hispanic students, who make up 62 percent, also grew.
In 2013, the percentage of white students (56 percent) and Hispanic students (52 percent) meeting state standards in reading didn’t differ dramatically. But in 2014, the percentage of Hispanic students meeting state standards fell to 37 percent, while the percentage of white students meeting state standards held steady at 56 percent.
A similar gap exists in math, where 59 percent of students met state standards in 2014 (up from 52 percent in 2013). In 2014, the percentage of Hispanic students meeting state standards in math fell to 39 percent from 43 percent in 2013.