By Bob Skolnik
S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield earned its second straight "exemplary" ranking on its 2019 school report card issued last week by the Illinois State Board of Education, while Brook Park School in LaGrange Park fell from exemplary to "commendable" this year.
An exemplary rating means S.E. Gross was in the top 10 percent of all public schools in Illinois and that no student subgroups ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the state. A commendable rating means that no student group ranked in the bottom 5 percent, but overall performance was not in the top 10 percent.
About 75 percent of the public schools in the state, including all Landmark area school not receiving an exemplary rating, were rated as commendable.
The ratings are based on a formula that includes students' performance last spring on the Illinois Assessment of Readiness Test which has replaced, but is similar to, the old PARCC Exam.
At Gross School, 66 percent of students met or exceeded the state standards in English Language Arts (ELA), an increase of 9 percentage points from 2017-18.
Forty-one percent of Gross students made the grade in math, an increase of one point, while 74 percent of Gross students were rated proficient in science.
At Brook Park, performance in ELA remained the same as last year, with 56 percent of students making the mark. In math, 37 percent of Brook Park students met or exceeded state standards, up two points from 35 percent a year ago. Seventy-six percent of Brook Park students were rated as proficient in science.
Komarek School ELA scores jump
At Komarek School in North Riverside, ELA scores jumped seven points to 48 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in 2018-19, up from 41 percent in 2017-18.
But math scores dropped two points to just 30 percent meeting or exceeding state standards. Fifty-one percent of Komarek students were rated as proficient in science.
Komarek Superintendent Brian Ganan said that the drop in math scores was not surprising, because last year a different math curriculum was used in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.
"It's a total different way in teaching and learning, so I'm not shocked that the scores went down 2 percent," Ganan said.
This year Komarek is using a new math curriculum, Math in Focus, in the elementary grades. Ganan said that he expects to eventually see improvement in math scores as a result of the change.
"We knew there was an issue," Ganan said. "The resources we were using were not aligned well enough and they didn't lead to the type of instruction that needs to happen with Common Core. . . We're making big changes in math but it will take a little time."
Mixed results in District 102
In LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, which serves the southwest quarter of Brookfield, the results were somewhat mixed.
At Congress Park School in Brookfield, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards in math dropped nine points to just 30 percent from 39 percent in 2017-18.
The percentage of students making the mark in ELA, meanwhile, dropped four points, to 40 percent in 2018-19 from 44 percent the year before.
However, growth at Congress Park was above average in ELA and slightly above average in math. Fifty-one percent of Congress Park students, 38 percent of whom are classified as low-income, were rated proficient in science.
At Park Junior High School, which earned an "exemplary" rating, 83 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in ELA and 62 percent did so in math. Seventy-one percent were rated proficient in science.
Scores essentially flat in D103
At Lincoln School in Brookfield, which is part of Lyons-Brookfield District 103, scores stayed about the same year over year, rising one point in math to 17 percent meeting or exceeding state standards and dropping one point in ELA to 22 percent making the grade. Fifty-six percent of Lincoln students were rated proficient in science.
Growth at Lincoln School, where the principal was forced to resign midyear last year after a dispute with the then interim superintendents, was below the state average.
The school also reported a 14 percent rate of chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing 15 or more days of school during the school year for any reason.
At George Washington Middle School the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards rose by two points in ELA to 26 percent and dropped by three points in math to just 13 percent. Fifty-nine percent of GWMS students were rated as proficient in science.