Leading up to the District 204 School Board election, I’ve noticed candidates campaigning around Lyons Township High School’s proficiency scores, which appear low (53% math, 49% reading). I’d like to provide some context around these numbers.

All proficiency percentages in this piece come directly from www.illinoisreportcard.com, and all rankings in this piece come directly from www.publicschoolreview.com. 

Illinoisreportcard.com is the state’s official source for information about public schools across Illinois. Publicschoolreview.com provides rigorous analysis of public schools with public data sets from federal and state education agencies.

First, LT’s proficiency vastly outperforms state averages, better than 89% of other Illinois high schools. LT’s reading proficiency is 19.6 points higher than state average and math is 24.3 points higher.

Second, regarding proficiency numbers being higher in the past, in 2016-17, the state of Illinois started requiring every student to take the SAT. For a student to be deemed “proficient” they need a minimum SAT score of 540 for both math and English. 

Anything lower is considered not proficient, regardless of whether a student was planning a career in the military, trades or simply didn’t need an SAT score for their college of choice. 

For comparison, the College Board considers a 480 in English and 530 in math to be college ready. When this change was implemented, Illinois schools’ proficiency rates went down, but LT’s proficiency rankings improved. So, when you see a rate of math proficiency at 53%, that does not mean 47% of students failed the test. It just means 47% of students did not get 540 or higher on the math portion of the SAT.

Since 2017, including during COVID and during changes in grading policy, LT’s proficiency rankings have remained steadily among the top 15% of all Illinois high schools.

The truth is that there is a reasonable explanation and context behind the numbers. Weaponizing proficiency scores, especially for those who should understand that context, is something I disagree with. 

Test scores are not the only way we should measure student success, but when we place these numbers into context, we actually can see that LT is moving in the right direction, up. 

They aren’t done yet. They are aware of the work that needs to be done closing the achievement/opportunity gap to ensure the success of all students. It would be shortsighted to change out a school board that has made huge strides bringing LT into the 21st century by adding computers for every child, air conditioning and social-emotional learning into the curriculum. 

I want my children to attend a school that supports educating the whole child, brings LT infrastructure up to par with that of comparable schools and continues its upward academic trajectory.

Ricardo Martinez, Western Springs