Scores rose across all three Proviso high school districts on the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) and the ACT college entrance exam.
PMSA scores surge back
At the District 209 school board meeting Tuesday, Bessie Karvelas, principal of Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park pointed to the highest PSAE scores in the six-year-history of the school.
Scores roared back after a tumble last November, when the district had a cumulative score which dropped five points from 75 to 70 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards.
This year’s cumulative average was 81 percent meeting-or-exceeding, or a 16 percent improvement from last year.
Breaking out the scores, students improved most significantly in science which rose from 60 percent meet-or-exceed to 75.2 percent, a 25 percent improvement. In English, scores improved from 71 percent to 82 percent, a 16 percent boost. Math scores also bumped up by 16 percent, rising from 69 percent in 2013 to almost 80 percent meet-or-exceed.
Karvelas told the board she was asked to raise test scores — and not just back to 2013 levels. “And we did. We got the highest scores in the history of the school,” she said.
She said teachers faced “unknown territory,” when she took the helm at the school, including “high stakes instruction, new school wide initiatives, and 2.5 years of
professional development that was rolled into 10 months.”
“This could have been a formula for disaster,” she added.
Karvelas gave special thanks to all PMSA teachers, who under their contract all received a $1,500 bonus.
Karvelas said scores broken into subcategories showed African American students excelling at a pace matching their peers.
“There is no achievement gap at PMSA,” she said.
The PSAE test is on its way out, being replaced by the PARCC exam (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) which are aligned with the Common Core state standards. Students have taken the PSAE exam in April of their junior year.
This year PMSA’s ACT scores rose by one point from an average composite score of 21.5 to 22.5.
Fifty-six percent of seniors were considered ready for college coursework by meeting ACT college readiness benchmarks.
Proviso East scores improve
Proviso East PSAE scores also improved. Most significantly in math, Proviso East juniors’ scores rose from 11 percent meet-or-exceed to 19 percent, a jump of 73 percent. In reading, scores rose from 20 percent to 22 percent. Science scores fell by one point from 10 percent to 9 percent meet-or-exceed.
Proviso East’s composite ACT scores increased from an average of 15.3 to 15.7, the district said.
However, only seven percent of PEHS students were deemed ready for college coursework by meeting ACT college readiness benchmarks.
Proviso West PSAE test scores in 2014 rose slightly across the board. Reading scores went up by three points from 27 to 30 percent meet-or-exceed. Math scores rose four percent from 24 to 30 and science scores rose by two points from 17 to 19 percent.
The average ACT composite score at Proviso West rose slightly from 16.5 to 16.7 in 2014.
Seventeen percent of PWHS seniors met ACT college-readiness benchmarks.
Chronic truancy falls district-wide
The district got a handle on chronic truancy this year, according to the Illinois Report Card. The number of students who racked up nine or more unexcused absences fell across the district from 46.5 percent last year to 21 percent this year.
At Proviso East, chronic truancy fell from 79 percent last year (1,520 students) to 33 percent this year (534 students) who had nine or more unexcused absences.
PMSA chronic truancy almost disappeared. Last year 29 percent of students (237 students) had tallied nine unexcused absences. In 2014 the district reported only eight students, or one percent.
At Proviso West, the total fell by almost half. Last year the number of students chronically truant was 25 percent, or 534 students. This year, that number fell to 13 percent, or 278 students.
Graduation rates drop
Four-year graduations rates for Proviso East and West dropped from last year’s numbers.
Proviso East had the biggest fall in graduation rates from 73 percent in May, 2013 to 58 percent last year. This means almost 750 students of the 1,775 at Proviso East did not graduate in four years.
Graduation rates at Proviso West (enrollment 2,139) dropped slightly from 77 percent (492 students failing to graduate in four years) to 70 percent (641 students failing to graduate).
PMSA’s graduation rate last year was 100 percent.