Last week the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released report cards for Illinois public schools. Although two River Forest District 90 schools were ranked by the ISBE as “exemplary” for the 2017-18 school year, last year they were downgraded to “commendable,” the designation shared by Roosevelt Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School and Willard Elementary School. A commendable designation falls between “underperforming” and “exemplary,” the latter given only to the top 10 percent of schools statewide.

In a press release from D90 Superintendent Ed Condon, the change in reaching the designations for the 2018/2019 vs. the 2017/2018 school year was discussed.

According to the press release: “One of the notable revisions this year involved changing the relative value of the IAR [Illinois Assessment of Readiness] student proficiency measures compared to the IAR measures of student growth. This year, “student proficiency” was weighted at 7.5 percent of the total designation (for both ELA and Math), while “student growth” was weighted at 25 percent of the total designation (for both ELA and Math). “Student proficiency” is defined by the percentage of students who met grade level expectations, while “student growth” is defined as the average of individual students’ growth percentiles. All of the D90 schools were designated as Commendable, which means school performance was below the top 10 percent.”

Roosevelt Middle School improved slightly in both English and Language Arts and Math. In ELA, the proficiency went from 67 percent in 2017/2018 to 68 percent in the 2018/2019 school year. Math scores went up two percentage points to 63 percent.

Lincoln remained relatively steady in ELA proficiency, dropping two points to 74 percent over the 2018/2019 school year. But a big drop in math proficiency, from 73 to 63 percent.

Willard Elementary also saw a significant fall in scores, but in ELA, not math. Their ELA proficiency score went from 82 percent in the 2018/2019 school year to 72 percent in the 2018/2019 school year. While the performance levels for white students remained relatively stable, those of black students suffered. During the 2017/2018 school year, there were no black students in the two lowest categories of achievement for ELA: “did not meet” and “partially met.” In the 2018/2019 year, however, 10 percent of black students did not meet performance levels and 20 percent only partially met them. This means that 30 percent of black students fell into the lowest categories from one year to the next.

At Willard, math scores jumped five points to 65 percent.

“On average,” said the release from Condon, “District 90 students achieved levels of proficiency that were nearly double the state average.” But he added that “the results indicate there are opportunities for growth, especially with specific groups of students and in the realm of math.”

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