State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said Illinois historically has used a proficiency-based assessment system that largely reflected the socioeconomic status of the student without measuring student engagement or growth.
However, under the 2018 Illinois Report Card, students and districts are measured through the Every Student Succeeds Act – an accountability-driven replacement of the No Child Left Behind Act that factors in academic growth, graduation rates and other statistics to measure student performance.
Smith said the end result is an individualized assessment system, which is important in providing equitable funding for districts struggling to achieve student success across all demographics.
Schools are given one of four summative designations: lowest performing, underperforming, commendable or exemplary. These are drawn from multiple student success indicators, such as English/language arts and math proficiency, English learner progress and chronic absenteeism.
Some schools will not have a designation, either because they do not receive one or because the school has an insufficient population or data to make the appropriate calculations.
“Exemplary” schools have no underperforming student groups and are performing in the top 10 percent of schools statewide.
For a school to receive a “commendable” designation, it does not have any underperforming student groups, has a graduation rate higher than 67 percent and is not performing in the top 10 percent of schools statewide.
An "underperforming" school has at least one student group performing at or below the level of the “all students” group in the lowest performing 5 percent of schools. The "lowest performing" schools are in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state, or any high school with a graduation rate of 67 percent or less.
Harvard School District 50 – which is designated as a Tier 1 district, meaning it is in the greatest financial need under the evidence-based funding model – ended up with three underperforming schools: Harvard Junior High, Jefferson Elementary and Crosby Elementary schools.
District 50 Superintendent Corey Tafoya said the three schools’ only underperforming measures were in certain special education subgroups that were not making the same progress as other student groups.
In light of the millions of dollars in additional revenue the district is receiving courtesy of the new evidence-based funding formula, Tafoya said he is hoping to implement comprehensive curriculum changes that not only will benefit special education performance, but also will boost the performance of all students.
“We want to make sure families understand that school designations shouldn’t scare you,” Tafoya said. “We’re doing a lot to explain the success of our programs, and we also want everyone to know that changes that have substance and that matter are not just a finger snap.”
Northwood Middle School in Woodstock School District 200, which was designated as an underperforming school, experienced a similar situation, as its only underperforming demographics were in the special education and African-American student populations, Superintendent Mike Moan said.
“In both cases, they were very close to the scores needed to meet the ESSArequirement,” Moan said.
Underperforming status is not indicative of the health of the entire school, he said.
Mary Endres Elementary School, meanwhile, was designated as exemplary in District 200, and Moan said Prairiewood Elementary is right on the cusp of exemplary status.
Scott Kubelka, assistant superintendent of student learning for Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47, said although two district schools – West Elementary and Indian Prairie Elementary – were categorized as exemplary, school personnel believe there still is room for growth, and they will try to implement goals and strategies from the district’s new strategic plan across other schools.
“I guess it’s really more about continuous improvement,” Kubelka said.
In total, 15 schools in the county were considered exemplary, 50 were considered commendable and eight were considered underperforming.
Exemplary and underperforming schools
Nippersink Middle School (District 2)
Richmond Grade School (District 2)
Johnsburg Junior High School (District 12)
Edgebrook Elementary School (District 15)
Briargate Elementary School (District 26)
Prairie Grove Elementary School (District 46)
West Elementary School (District 47)
Indian Prairie Elementary School (District 47)
Cary-Grove High School (District 155)
Crystal Lake South High School (District 155)
Prairie Ridge High School (District 155)
Richmond-Burton Community High School (District 157)
Leggee Elementary School (District 158)
Locust Elementary School (District 165)
Mary Endres Elementary School (District 200)
Alden-Hebron Middle School (District 19)
Cary Junior High School (District 26)
Harrison Elementary School (District 36)
Hannah Beardsley Middle School (District 47)
Harvard Junior High School (District 50)
Jefferson Elementary School (District 50)
Crosby Elementary School (District 50)
Northwood Middle School (District 200)
Source: Illinois State Board of Education