It’s 2014—the year when No Child Left Behind stated 100 percent of public school children in America were to be proficient in math and reading.
Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. Not here and not in any other state.
Scores released today by the Illinois State Board of Education show the percentage of grammar school children considered proficient in reading dipped to 56.8 percent from 58.5 percent, while the percentage of students meeting state standards in math inched up to 58.9 percent from 57.9 percent.
The percentage of high school juniors meeting standards in reading and math rose from 53.3 percent to 54.3 percent. The average ACT score increased slightly, from 20.3 to 20.4.
Next year, Illinois will replace the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, for grammar school children and the Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE, for high school juniors with the PARCC exam, a computer-based test aligned to the Common Core.
But in a conference call with reporters, State Superintendent Christopher Koch said looking at only reading and math scores to measure a school’s success isn’t really healthy.
“That was far too crude,” Koch said. “We shouldn’t have been doing that as a measure to indicate whether a school was good or bad. It’s just not that simple or straightforward.”
Koch pointed to the new data added to the report card this year—like how many students are enrolling in college within a year of graduation and how many teachers stay at a school each year. Statewide, 66.3 percent of high school graduates are enrolled in college within 12 months of graduation and overall, 85.6 percent of teachers stayed teaching in the same school they taught in last year. A school-by-school breakdown is available at illinoisreportcard.com.
That information—and a lot more—was added this year after the federal government granted Illinois, and many other states, flexibility from the federal No Child Left Behind law, which focused almost entirely on test scores.
In order to get flexibility, states had to outline a specific plan for measuring school performance that would replace the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The federal government granted waivers to 41 states and the District of Columbia.