It’s time to stop misleading parents about the quality of Illinois schools
State government officials, district administrators and union bosses have been actively misleading parents about the quality of Illinois’ elementary schools for years. New Illinois Standard Achievement Test, or ISAT, scores released last week by the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, prove as much. In fact, most schools across the state experienced significant drops...
State government officials, district administrators and union bosses have been actively misleading parents about the quality of Illinois’ elementary schools for years. New Illinois Standard Achievement Test, or ISAT, scores released last week by the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, prove as much.
In fact, most schools across the state experienced significant drops in scores this year compared to 2012. These disappointing results are due to ISBE adopting higher standards to ease the transition to more demanding federal education requirements – called Common Core – next year.
The state increased the scores required to pass the ISAT math and reading tests by 13 to 30 points. This drastically reduced the number of “high-performing” schools in the state. The number of schools that had 90 percent or more of their students pass the reading and math exams dropped to 58 in 2013 from 849 in 2012 – a 93 percent decrease.
Urban districts such as Chicago saw the largest declines. Last year, Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, had 75 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT. This year, with the new scoring methodology, only 49 percent of students scored at the same level.
And these results aren’t just scores on a piece of paper – they carry real-life consequences. A student who meets standards is able to comprehend grade-level material. In reading, this means that he or she is able to identify characters’ motivations and a story’s plot and theme. In science, it means that he or she is able to create a hypothesis and devise an experiment to test it. In math, it means that a student can solve practical problems that involve integers, decimals, fractions, percentages and proportions.
Unfortunately, things look even worse at the lowest 10 percent of elementary schools in CPS. In these schools, fewer than 20 percent of students met or exceeded state standards on the ISAT this year, a decrease of about 5 percentage points from the year before.
All of this news reveals the extent to which state officials, administrators and union bosses have been misleading parents about the quality of the state’s schools to escape the federal penalties associated with underperformance.
These educational elite, who are more than willing to mislead parents if it helps them keep their jobs, are not who citizens should rely on to oversee the state’s education system. They have their self-interest, not the public interest, at heart.
Instead, the state should leave this responsibility to parents by providing them with the resources to choose the best school for their children. They are the only people willing to devote the time and effort necessary to make sure that the school they choose for their child is representing itself accurately and is the right fit.