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Local News

Latest state Report Card shows students not college-ready

The Illinois Report Card, released Friday, shows that while a good majority of high school graduates enroll in college, they aren’t necessarily prepared for the coursework that comes with it.

In the latest state analysis of schools, the Illinois State Board of Education looked at the percentage of high school graduates from the 2011-12 school year who enrolled in a two- or four-year college in the U.S. within 12 or 16 months.

They then looked at the percentage of students who scored at least a 21 composite score on the ACT – a score that deems test-takers college-ready.

Joliet Township High School District 204 is below the state average in both categories.

Just over half of District 204 students enrolled in college soon after graduating high school, according to the state’s analysis, but just 30 percent were prepared for college-level courses.

Statewide, about 66 percent of high school graduates from the 2011-12 school year went to college within 12 months and 70 percent enrolled within 16 months. Just 46 were considered college-ready.

District 204 Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy said the district strives to “always make college a reality for students.”

About 63 percent of District 204’s population are low-income students, a factor that should be considered when analyzing the state’s numbers, McCarthy said.

“College doesn’t always seem like a reality for these families, but it can be,” she said.

One way the district is striving to improve those numbers is through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties’ new Mentor 2.0 program. The program matches up JTHS students with local college graduates who understand the crucial skills they’ll need when they reach college.

One school district that did better on the college-readiness standard is Plainfield School District 202, one of the state’s largest school districts.

Seventy percent of students from the 2011-12 school year enrolled in college within 12 months, while 74 percent enrolled withing 16 months. At the same time, just 48 percent of students scored 21 or higher on the ACT that year.

‘Average growth value’

Unlike test scores, which only show a one-time snapshot of achievement, a new metric – Student Academic Growth – compares students’ growth from year to year on the ISAT test, according to the state board of education.

Growth value scores greater than 100 indicate students are improving relative to their grade level. An example is moving from “below standards” to “meets standards.”

Joliet Public Schools District 86, the grade school district, scored 96 in reading and 105 in math. Several districts in Will County scored average growth values greater than 100. Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C, Plainfield’s 202 and Channahon School District 17 had scored 111, 110 and 109 in math, respectively.

In reading, nine districts scored below 100, while Channahon and Frankfort school districts scored the highest, with 106. The lowest scoring districts for reading include Taft, Fairmont and Crete Monee. Just five districts scored below 100 for math.

‘New benchmarks’

Illinois is moving away from the federal education requirements of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law.

Illinois applied for a waiver to the federal education requirements imposed by the 2001 federal act. That waiver, which took effect July 1, allows schools to move away from the old benchmarks – and the subsequent consequences of not hitting them – and toward a growth model.

• Shaw Media reporters Ashley Sloboda and Allison Goodrich contributed to this story.

BY THE NUMBERS

Unlike test scores, which only show a one-time snapshot of achievement, a new metric – the Student Academic Growth – compares students’ growth from year to year on the ISAT test, according to ISBE. Scores higher than 100 indicate students are improving relative to their grade level, for example by moving from “below standards” to “meets standards.”

Here’s a look at local school districts’ average growth values:

Growth Value Scores (Reading; Math)
• Beecher CUSD 200U – 100; 103
• Chaney-Monge SD 88 – 97; 96
• Channahon SD 17 – 106; 109
• Crete Monee CUSD 201U – 95; 103
• Elwood CCSD 203 – 101; N/A
• Fairmont SD 89 – 94; 91
• Frankfort CCSD 157C – 106; 103
• Homer CCSD 33C – 103; 111
• Joliet PSD 86 – 105; 96
• Laraway CCSD 70C – 103; 97
• Manhattan SD 114 – 100; 104
• Mokena SD 159 – 104; 103
• New Lenox SD 122 – 100; 105
• Lockport SD 91 – 99; 104
• Peotone CUSD 207U – 100; 102
• Plainfield SD 202 – 101; 110
• Reed Custer CUSD v255U – 97; 104
• Richland GSD 88A – 100; 107
• Rockdale SD 84 – 97; 104
• Summit Hill SD 161 – 103; 103
• Taft SD 90 – 93; 102
• Troy CCSD 30C – 97; 104
• Will County SD 92 – 102; 108
• Wilmington CUSD 209U – 97; 98
• Union SD 81 – 100; 103
• Valley View CUSD 365U – 100; 106

Source: Illinois State Board of Education

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