Corrections: In the initial reporting of D97’s school report card, published on Nov. 3, Wednesday Journal reported inaccurate information for the English language arts and math portion of the story, as well as the reported rates for chronic absenteeism. This story has been updated to reflect the changes made. We sincerely apologize for the oversight.

The grades are in and Oak Park Elementary School District 97 had high-performing schools across the district, with two receiving the highest score of “exemplary schools,” and the other eight bringing in “commendable schools” scores. 

Bringing in those two exemplary scores were William Beye Elementary and Oliver Holmes Elementary.

Each year, the state releases its Illinois Report Card to offer a look at students/ academic achievement at the state, district, and school levels. It also offers student and teacher information, as well financial data, at each level.

The Illinois State Board of Education reported that in 2023, schools’ statewide proficiency rates rose and hit the highest graduation rate in 13 years. Academic gains for Black students, who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, improved significantly in many areas.

Despite the strides, officials said proficiency rates across the board remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Chronic absenteeism remains “alarmingly” high, they said, while pointing out that more work was needed to ensure students are able to recover from the social, emotional and academic impacts of the pandemic. 

According to the Illinois Report Card website, exemplary designations are given to schools performing in the top 10%of schools statewide with no underperforming student groups and commendable designations are for schools that have no underperforming students’ groups, a graduation rate greater than 67%, and whose performance is not in the top 10% of schools statewide. 

The district snapshot also showed that compared to the state’s average performance score, D97 had a lower percentage of students who experienced at least one transfer in or out of the school, receiving a 3.6% score compared to the state’s 7.4% for student mobility. According to the report, a higher turnover rate in students is shown to be both academically and socially disruptive to both ongoing students as well as those experiencing the transition. 

Amanda Siegfried, senior director of communications and engagement, said the district knows the data is impacted by larger factors, such as affordable housing and secure jobs, among others, but the district will still review the data to consider that mobility rate in context with the district’s 17% poverty rate compared to the state’s at 49%. When it comes to student mobility rate among disaggregated data, Siegfried said the district still “holds themselves accountable” and will look closer to understand why Black student mobility rate is three times higher than the district’s rate.

Enrollment for the district was reported as 5,492 students across the 10 schools, of which the largest percentage is composed of white students, who make up the majority of the 2,869 enrolled students. Additionally, the report card accounted for 869 Black students, 735 Hispanic students, 164 Asian students, and 850 students who reported to identify with two or more ethnicities. 

Wednesday Journal will be providing information on a district-wide level with a more in-depth look on individual schools and what the numbers really mean in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, you can learn more about your local schools at and search by individual districts. 

English language arts and math 

47.7% of the district’s students met proficiency standards in English language arts, over the state’s 34.6%. According to the Illinois Report Card website, proficiency refers to a student demonstrating or not demonstrating if they are “well advanced in…a branch of knowledge.” In the report, proficiency represents a student’s success in achieving levels within standardized testing. Compared to their 2022 scores, D97 saw an increase in proficiency, from 41.7% to this year’s 47.3%, an improvement of 5.6%. 

In mathematics, the district also saw an increase in their score, with 43.7% of students meeting proficiency levels for 2023, in comparison to their 2022 score of 41.2%. For this year’s report, the state reported proficiency rates at 26.9%. 

According to the Illinois Report Card website, the state of Illinois uses student growth percentiles to calculate growth. 

The average proficiency rates in both ELA and math in Illinois remain below pre-pandemic levels. State officials, however, pointed out that Illinois has some of the most rigorous standards for proficiency in the nation, and its benchmark for proficiency is higher than that of 45 other states, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

However, the statewide averages of Black students’ growth and proficiency rates still lag behind other students. This, officials said, is a result of being served disproportionately in underfunded schools.

The report shows that in 2023 the district’s Black students proficiency rates were at 20.2% compared to the state’s 16.1% in ELA and 13.7% compared to the state’s 8% in Math. 


Overall, the district saw 47.7% of their students achieving performance level according to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, IAR, well over the 35.4% achieved by the state. This percentage was also an increase from 2022, when the district scored 41.9% and the state received 30.1%. 


Chronic absenteeism skyrocketed during the pandemic, but the report card showed slight improvements from previous years. The average rate for the state dropped to 28.3% from 29.8% the year before. However, the overall rate for D97 increased by a slight .4%. 

Black students in D97 also had higher rates of chronic absenteeism. While not as high as the state’s score for 2023, which was 42.1%, the district scored a 25.4%, which was only a 2.4% improvement from 2022. 

On a state level, Black student’s rate decreased, going from 47.9% in 2022 to 42.1% this year, a 5.8% improvement. That’s because, state board officials said, they had less access to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now better able to attend class. 

Overall, when considering the data from all student demographics, D97 received a score of 15%, 13.3% lower than the state’s 28.3%.

Student Demographics

For 2023, D97 had English learners account for 3.2% of their student population, significantly lower than the state’s score of 14.6%. Both the state and D97 saw a slight increase in English learners from previous years, although the growth has been relatively slow, with D97 only increasing by .6%. 

Students with IEPs were also reported, with D97 having a similar percentage as the state of Illinois throughout the previous years. For 2023, D97 had 16% of their students receiving special education or related services in accordance to their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), only 1% higher than the state’s.

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