Nearly 1 in 3 Illinois students didn’t take assessment tests

Nearly 1 in 3 Illinois students didn’t take assessment tests

Lots of Illinois students missed lots of school during 2021, meaning state test scores suffered. Chronic truancy led to drops across demographics.

Illinois’ high number of truant students also resulted in 30% of them not taking the annual academic proficiency tests during the COVID-19 school year.

Those who did test in 2021 saw poorer scores.

The Illinois State Board of Education released district-level testing data Dec. 2. Results from the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, the standardized test for grades 3-8, show a drop in academic proficiency across all demographics.

Poor performance in third-grade reading is especially troubling, because it’s the first year when students participate in statewide literacy assessments. Nearly 3 in 4 students failed to test at the state proficiency level.

The results were good news for some, such as Morton Grove District 70. The district used smaller class sizes and saw a 35% increase in 6th graders meeting or exceeding English standards.

Higher rates of student absences disrupted learning for many, with 20% of students statewide missing 10% of the school year or more – the definition of chronic truancy.

Educators defended the poor results, saying the tests are simply a snapshot and don’t tell the whole story.

“It is utterly ridiculous to ‘grade’ school districts with false evaluations of effectiveness when everyone’s M.O. for the past year has been maintaining proper health, safety and sanity,” Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said.

Between three COVID-19 financial relief packages, Illinois school districts will get nearly $7 billion in federal dollars to respond to pandemic-related challenges. State board leaders estimated at least $25 million will be spent on comprehensive tutoring programs in 2022.

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