Dr. Kim Echols, formerly principal of Proviso Math and Science Academy, is now Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction of D209.

It’s called Proviso Math and Science Academy, and it’s supposed to be the jewel in the Proviso crown, but the math and science test scores at PMSA took a significant downturn in results from the Prairie State Achievement Tests, released last week by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Math scores at the high school fell by 11.5 percent to 69 percent from 77 percent of students who “meet or exceed” state standards. In the science portion of the test, scores dropped to 60 percent meet-or-exceed from 75 percent.

Reading scores fell by only one point to 72 percent.

Also, according to the new Illinois report card, the chronic truancy rate at the school exploded to 29 percent of students who were absent without a valid reason for 5 percent or more of regular school days. In the 2011-12 school year, that rate was 4 percent.

PMSA’s drop in scores represented a significantly steeper percentage than other schools in the state.

Statewide, math scores remained at 59 percent meet-or-exceed in 2012-13. In science statewide, scores dropped by three points from 52 percent to 49 percent.

The cumulative PSAE test score at PMSA dropped five points from 75 to 70 percent meet-or-exceed. Statewide, the cumulative PSAE scores rose from 51 to 53 percent.

The PSAE tests are taken by 11th graders in the spring of their junior year. This year 100 percent of PMSA students took the exam.

District 209 board members were informed about the scores at the end of the last school year, so they have known about the drop for a while.

“We’re deeply disappointed [at the drop in test scores],” said board member Kevin McDermott, “and we’re still looking for some answers.”

PMSA teachers and administrators did not respond to a requested email for comment by press time.

Kim Echols, PMSA principal for the 2012-13 school year, was promoted to assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction this year.

Students at PMSA also took the ACT. The district did not release PMSA’s composite ACT score, and it is no longer available on the Illinois report card website.

According to the new Illinois State Report Card, only 26 percent of students at PMSA met the college readiness benchmarks across all subjects, English, math, reading and science. While 87 percent of students met the college readiness benchmark, an 18 score in English, fewer than half (47 percent) met the benchmark score of 22 in reading. In science, fewer than half (45 percent) of PMSA students met the college benchmark score of 23. Sixty percent of students achieved the math benchmark score of 22.

D209 cancelled a briefing with the media to discuss the standardized test scores and plans for improvement in the schools on Friday, said Rob Daniel, spokesman for the distrct. The meeting has not been rescheduled.

This story was updated to reflect the cancellation of the D209 media briefing to discuss test scores.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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