Test results for area elementary and middle schools, other than Riverside Elementary School District 96, were a mixed bag in 2017.
Students in Brookfield, LaGrange Park School District 95 exceeded state averages on the state-mandated PARCC exam that third- through eighth-grade students took last spring.
Thirty-nine percent of District 95 students met or exceeded the tough state standards, while in the state as a whole only 34 percent of students did.
In addition, 34 percent of students in District 95 fell into the nebulous third category of “approaching” state standards compared to 28 percent of students statewide.
Only 6 percent of District 95 students scored in lowest of the five categories, not meeting state standards, compared to 16 percent statewide.
District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski is no fan of the PARCC exam
“The PARCC data is useless to us,” said Kuzniewski. “While we’ll continue to comply by having our students take the PARCC exam, the data that it provides to us, in our mind, is not relevant or useful for assessing instructional decisions.”
Kuzniewski prefers the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test which is given to students a couple times a year and measures student growth.
“It’s the most usable and most reliable data that we have at a given time,” Kuzniewski said.
According to the district’s two principals, students have showing good growth on the MAP test, on which 91 percent of seventh-graders scored average or above average in reading, S.E. Gross Principal Ryan Evans told the school board at its Nov. 9 meeting.
But on the PARCC exam, just 49 percent of Gross seventh-graders met or exceeded the state standards in reading, with another 29 percent approached state standards.
As in other districts there were stark differences in the way students in various demographic groups scored. Only 19 percent of low-income students in District 95 met or exceeded state standards, compared to 40 percent of non-low-income students.
Forty-two percent of white students in District 95 met or exceeded state standards compared to 25 percent of Hispanic students and just 8 percent of black students. According to information that’s part of the annual state report card for the school district, 62.5 percent of students in District 95 students are white, 30.3 percent are Hispanic and just 1.8 percent are black.
At one-school Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside students performed mostly in line with state averages.
Overall, just 33 percent of Komarek students met or exceeded state averages compared to 34 percent statewide. Another 33 percent of Komarek students scored in the “approaching expectations,” category compared to 28 percent statewide.
Komarek scores have been dipping a bit in the last two years. In 2015, 40 percent of students met or exceeded expectations while 36 percent did so in 2016.
District 94 Superintendent Brian Ganan said one reason for the drop in scores is that 27 students at Komarek refused to take the PARCC exam, apparently on instructions from their parents. These were mostly strong students whose scores would have increased the school’s averages, according to Ganan.
“We had a lot of kids refuse last year,” Ganan said. “For us it was a big deal and a lot of those kids passed the year before. If we didn’t have the refusals, we probably would have gone up a couple percentage points.”
Komarek has implemented a new reading curriculum, and right after a new curriculum is implemented scores often drop before improving, Ganan said.
“This is the first time implementing the units, so I’m not surprised to see a little bit of a dip,” Ganan said.
Like most schools, Komarek students did better in English language arts (ELA) than they did in math.
While 38 percent of Komarek students met or exceeded the state standards in English, only 28 percent did so in math.
Ganan said that the district will be updating its math curriculum.
“Math was really what brought us down, but we’re in the process of identifying new resources to pilot,” Ganan said.
Since coming to Komarek in 2015 Ganan has been trying to increase the rigor of the curriculum and to bring it more in alignment with the Common Core standards that are tested in the PARCC Exam.
Demographic differences were stark at Komarek. Only 18 percent of low-income Komarek students met or exceeded state averages, compared to 40 percent of their better off peers.
In terms of ethnic/racial subgroups, 62 percent of Asian students at Komarek met or exceeded state standards compared to 41 percent of white students, 24 percent of Hispanic students, and 12 percent of black students.
At Komarek 43.8 percent of students are Hispanic, 38.6 are white, 13.2 are black, and 4.2 percent are Asian. The school reported that 42.5 percent of its students were classified as low-income.
Ganan said the district is working to improve results with underperforming minority students.
“We’re working with somebody from DePaul about cultural sensitivity and making sure that our environment, including academics, is sensitive and in tune with different cultures,” Ganan said.
Ganan said he will be presenting a three-year plan to boost scores to the school board soon.
“Bottom line, I can think how I want to think about the test, but it’s how we’re measured,” Ganan said. “We need to do better on it.”
Congress Park School
At Congress Park School in Brookfield, 51 percent of students met or exceeded state standards, which was a small improvement over recent years and well above the state average of 34 percent.
Congress Park is the most ethnically/racially diverse school in LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, with 42.5 percent of its students identifying as white, 41.4 percent as Hispanic, 10.1 as black, and 2 percent as Asian. In addition, 45 percent are classified as low-income.
Forty percent of low-income students at Congress Park met or exceeded state standards compared to 58 percent of their better off peers.
As elsewhere, Congress Park students did better in English than math, with 58 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in English, compared to 43 percent who did so in math.
Lincoln School, located in southeast Brookfield, was the worst performing school in the Landmark’s coverage area, with only 24 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards.
But scores at Lincoln, which is part of Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, are trending up.
In 2016, only 19 percent of students met or exceeded state standards, while 17 percent of Lincoln students met in 2015. Also in 2015, less than 1 percent of students exceeded state standards.
Among area schools, Lincoln has the highest percentage of low-income students at 61 percent, and 23 percent of Lincoln students come from families where English is not the first language.
And low income students at Lincoln fared far worse than those not classified as low income. Only 16 percent of low-income students met or exceeded state standards compared to 33 percent of their better off peers
Hispanic students comprise 53.5 percent of Lincoln School’s enrollment, while 38.6 are white and 4.5 percent are black.
Thirty percent of white students at Lincoln met or exceeded state standards, compared to 18 percent of Hispanic students and 10 percent of black students. Only 3 percent of Lincoln School students with limited proficiency in English met state standards.