Glitches in the tabulation of standardized test results has delayed the release of district report cards across the state by several months. In District 91, Superintendent Randolph Tinder said he expects to receive word on the schools’ performance in four or five weeks, based on a recent meeting with ranking members of the state Board of Education.
“It was a good meeting and this was probably the single most discussed topic,” Tinder said.
During a Dec. 5 meeting of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, Tinder said the reporting of student test results and other data included in the annual report cards was a hot issue among association members. The group met with members of the state’s education office and asked when the information will be made available.
Tinder is the president of the IASA.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Board of Education, Andrea Preston, disputed the timeline offered by Tinder. According to Preston, the data sets are not completed yet. Once the student’s test scores are finalized, it will be another four to five weeks before student reports are generated.
“ISBE also cannot begin to prepare school and district report cards until assessment data are final,” Preston said in a written statement.
Illinois law mandates that each public school district disseminate copies of its annual report card by Oct. 31.
“Obviously, we didn’t make that because they didn’t send it,” Tinder said.
In addition to informing the public on student performance, Tinder said the reports are valuable because they help teachers make midstream adjustments to their curriculum. However, if the information isn’t available until well into the school year, it’s tough to make meaningful changes.
More importantly, Tinder said, these report cards are also the basis for any school improvement plans that may be required under the federal education act, No Child Left Behind. Schools that fail to reach certain achievement benchmarks are required to explain how they will correct the shortcomings.
Results of the Iowa Test administered to students in grades 2 through 8 are incorporated into the report, but not used by the state or federal government in determining student performance. The Illinois Standards Achievement Test is taken by kids in grades 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. This exam is used to determine whether a school is making “adequate yearly progress” under NCLB.
“That’s the really high stakes test,” Tinder said.
For several years the district has struggled to bring math scores for African American eighth-graders up to state standards. According to the 2005 district report card, more than 77 percent of black eighth-grade students failed to meet state standards. Just 1.5 percent of the same students tested at the highest level of proficiency for math.
Middle school Principal Karen Bukowski has submitted several school improvement plans under NCLB to address these lagging scores. In anticipation of the next round of results, Tinder said he is confident that progress is being made.
“We’ve addressed those issues and feel pretty good about that,” Tinder said. “We’re doing OK. We’re not setting the world on fire, but we’re doing OK.”