District 207 Sees Test Scores Slip

Reading, math scores at Maine East and Maine South decline.

Fewer students who took the Prairie State Achievement Exam last April at Maine East and Maine South high schools met or exceeded state standards in reading and math, while those scores increased at Maine West High School, according to a report discussed during the Maine Township High School District 207 school board meeting Monday.

The PSAE is given each spring to juniors and is used to determine whether schools are making “adequate yearly progress” under the 2001 No Child Left Behind law. The two-day exam includes the ACT and other tests.

At Maine East High School in Park Ridge, 45.4 percent of last year’s juniors met or exceeded state standards in reading, down from 47.8 percent the year before. In math, 59 percent of Maine East students met of exceeded state standards, down from 61.8 percent last year.

At Maine South High School in Park Ridge, 74.7 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in reading, down from 75.7 percent in 2010. In math, 80.3 percent of Maine South students met or exceeded state standards, down from 81.5 percent in 2010.

At Maine West High School in Des Plaines, reading scores increased from 56.7 percent to 57.3 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards, and math scores increased from 60.1 percent meeting or exceeding state standards to 64.1 percent meeting or exceeding standards.


District 207 Superintendent Ken Wallace said the district is seeing the effects of a growing proportion of low-income students.

In 10 years, the percentage of low income students in District 207 has increased from 10.3 to 26.5 percent.

“There is no stronger correlation with academic achievement than poverty or the lack of poverty,” Wallace said.

None of the schools made “adequate yearly progress,” which this year was defined as having 85 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards – not only for all students, but also for subgroups, including ethnic groupings, low income students and English language learners.

However, only a handful of Illinois high schools – fewer than 5 percent - are believed to have met that goal this year. Many school administrators say the way the tests are administered makes it impossible for some students to succeed.

“If a student doesn’t speak English, it doesn’t help to make the print bigger or read the questions to them,” said Barbara Dill-Varga, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum.

Next year, when the bar for adequate yearly progress moves to 92 percent, even fewer schools will make the cut.

Dill-Varga reminded school board members that each year, a new class of students is tested, so the scores do not show progress for one group of students over time. She also said the information the school gets from the PSAE is very general, which it makes it difficult to know where exactly students are having trouble.

However, the district is working on several initiatives administrators expect to bear fruit in coming years, she said, including the creation of “professional learning teams,” or groups of teachers who meet each Wednesday morning to review student work and decide what instructional strategies will best meet the students’ needs, based on available data.


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