Although the majority of Forest Park students met state science standards in 2017, fifth-, eighth- and high-school students’ results continued to reveal a gap in black, brown, low-income and special education students’ understanding of science.
The state-mandated Illinois Science Assessment is administered in the spring to all fifth-grade, eighth-grade and high school students taking their first biology course.
“We will use this data to figure out our strengths and gaps and adjust as needed,” Supt. Louis Cavallo wrote in an email.
Nearly 70 percent of Forest Park District 91 eighth-graders met state standards in 2017, compared to a state average of 58 percent of eighth-graders who tested as proficient. Eighth graders’ scores also increased year over year, from 41 percent of students who met state standards in 2016. In an email, Cavallo credited the increase to an “an alignment of the science curriculum with the standards and purchase of new science materials aligned with the standards.”
This year, D91 schools implemented a new science curriculum that Cavallo has said is more inquiry-based. Kindergarten through fifth-graders now use materials from Amplify Learning, and sixth- through eighth-graders now use materials from Activate Learning.
These materials, however, have not yet addressed the gap between majority and minority racial, income and special education students’ science comprehension.
Just 56 percent of low-income D91 eighth-graders (i.e. those receiving free or reduced price lunch) passed the test, compared to nearly 79 percent of non-low-income students who tested as proficient in 2017.
Nearly 77 percent of white eighth-graders met state standards, compared to 58 percent of black students. Only 36 percent of individualized education program students met state standards, compared to the 75 percent of non-special education students who tested as proficient in science.
In fifth grade, 52 percent of students met state science standards, compared to a state average of nearly 59 percent of students who tested as proficient. Scores did increase year over year, however, with just 48 percent of Forest Park fifth-graders meeting standards in 2016.
In 2017, 80 percent of white students passed the test, compared to 35 percent of black students. Just 18 percent of individualized education program, or special education, students met state standards, compared to 59 percent of non-special education students who tested as proficient. Forty-three percent of low-income students met state standards, compared to 71 percent of non-low-income students.
Cavallo said D91 will mail individual 2017 science scores to parents. Scores can also be viewed online at www.isbe.net/ISA. Because this is just students’ second time taking the test, science scores will not be posted on the Illinois Report Card site.
At a high school level, Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA) students continued to outperform the state in 2017, with 77 percent of students testing as proficient compared to a state average of 40 percent. PMSA student scores also increased year over year, from 71 percent of students who met state standards the year before.
But, in 2017, just 10 percent of Proviso East students tested as proficient, far below the state average and a drop from the 13 percent who met state standards the year before. A spokeswoman from District 209 was unable to comment on students’ scores.