School District 65 students showed gains on the 2008 Illinois Standard Achievement Tests, ISATs, according to results reported to the School Board at its Sept. 22 meeting. On a combined basis, the percent of students who met or exceeded standards on the 2008 ISATs was 86.5%, up from 85.4% in the prior year. On a statewide basis, 79.1% of the students met or exceeded standards on the 2008 ISATs, compared to 78.7% in the prior year.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said in a report to the Board, “The most significant growth is seen with our African-American students, where the percent of students meeting and exceeding state standards [in reading] shows a five-point gain, from 69% in 2007 to more than 74% in 2008.”

The long-term trend is more dramatic. On a combined basis, the percentage of African-American students in District 65 meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math on the ISATs has increased from 47% in 2003 to 78% in 2008, a 31-point gain. On a statewide basis, African-American students increased from 38% on the 2003 ISATs to 62% on the 2008 ISATs, a 24-point gain.

While Hispanic students and students with a limited proficiency in English (LEP students) made substantial gains between 2003 and 2007, their average scores dropped substantially on the 2008 ISATs because of a change in the tests given to LEP students.

Paul Brinson, chief information officer for the District, reported that the achievement gap has also narrowed for Hispanic students, low-income students, students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and LEP students. Mr. Brinson presented data showing that the percentage of students in these groups who have met or exceeded standards on the ISATs in the last six years has increased by between 50 and 100%.

“Students who traditionally struggle in public education are doing significantly better,” Dr. Murphy said. However, those students who have traditionally fared well are still excelling. There were almost 89% of District 65’s white students meeting or exceeding state standards in 2003. Today we report 97% meeting or exceeding state standards.”

“These accomplishments warrant our celebrating the commitment, professionalism and quality of the schooling that our District and staff provide all of the students in District 65,” said Dr. Murphy. “The District’s success may be attributed to the commitment of its teachers, principals, staff and students and the continued implementation of innovative programs and initiatives to support teaching and improve instruction.”

Reading Scores


On a combined basis, the percent of students who met or exceeded standards in reading on the 2008 ISATs was 84%, up from 83% in the prior year. The percent of third-graders meeting or exceeding standards dropped five points, but there were increases or an unremarkable decline in all other grade levels.

African-American students showed the largest gains in reading scores, on top of big gains in the prior two years. On a combined basis, the percent of African-American students who met or exceeded standards in reading increased from 69% in 2007 to 74% in 2008, an increase of 5 percentage points. African-American students dropped three percentage points in reading at the third grade level, but Mr. Brinson noted that African-American students showed a 12-point gain at the fourth-grade level and 10-point gains in other grade levels.

The percent of Hispanic students meeting or exceeding standards in reading decreased from 78% in 2007 to 68% in 2008, a 10% decline. The biggest decline was in third grade, where the percent of Hispanic students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISATs declined from 91% in 2007 to 51% in 2008. Mr. Brinson said the decline was due to a new federally mandated requirement that LEP students (i.e. those with limited proficiency in English) take the ISATs, with accommodations, rather than the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth (IMAGE) test. The IMAGE test had previously been given to students who were enrolled in a transitional bilingual program for less than three years and were unable to take the ISATs due to their lack of proficiency in English. If the scores of LEP students are excluded from the analysis, 86% of Hispanic students met or exceeded standards in reading, said Mr. Brinson.

The scores of LEP students, who were required to take the ISATs, also showed substantial declines. On a combined basis, the percentage of LEP students meeting standards in reading dropped from 71% in 2007 to 49% in 2008, a drop of 22 percentage points. The results for LEP students dropped across the state due to the change in tests given to these students. One of the goals adopted by the Board on Sept. 22 is to accelerate English language instruction for Hispanic students.

Students with an IEP showed a slight increase. The percent of IEP students meeting or exceeding standards in reading increased from 49% in 2007 to 51% in 2008. The District has focused on improving services to IEP students in the last several years and is continuing intitiatives to instruct IEP students in the general education classroom, with supports, to the maximum extent possible.

Asian and white students continued to do well in reading on the ISATs, with 92% of Asian students meeting standards, down from 93% in the prior year, and 97% of white students meeting standards, the same as in the prior year.Between 1999 and 2003, students’ progress on the ISATs in reading was generally flat, but between 2003 and 2007 there have been substantial gains. Mr. Brinson said, “There has been an increase in achievement for African-American students from 43% to more than 74% meeting or exceeding standards [in reading] from 2003 to 2008, a 71% increase.” He added, “More than 50% of students with IEPs met or exceeded standards, more than a 100% increase over 2003.”

The accompanying table shows the percent of students, by subgroup, who met or exceeded standards in reading on 2003-2008 ISATs.

Math Scores
The District adopted the “everyday math” program in 1998-99. Since then, the percentage of District 65 students that has met standards in math has steadily increased. On the 1999 ISATs, 62% of the District’s students met standards in math; the percentage grew to 90% on the 2008 ISATs, or an increase of 28 percentage points over ten years. “The District’s mathematics instruction continues to yield exceptional levels of student achievement for all District 65 students,” said Dr. Murphy.

The long-term trend for African-American students shows substantial improvement. For example, the percent of African-American students meeting standards in math increased from 38% on the 1999 ISATs to 82% on the 2008 ISATs, an increase of 44 percentage points over ten years.

On the 2008 ISATs, the percent of the District’s students who met or exceeded State standards on math by subgroup were as follows: Black – 82%, up 1 percentage point from the prior year; Hispanic – 84%, up 1 point; Asian – 96%, up 1 point; white – 98%, same; IEP – 64%, up 1 point; LEP – 77%, up 5 points.

The accompanying table shows the percent of students who met or exceeded standards in math on the 2003-2008 ISATs.

Percent of Students Exceeding

The percent of District 65 students who “exceed” state standards has likewise increased over time. On a combined basis, the percentage of students in the “exceeds” category increased in reading from 29% on the 2003 ISATs to 38% on the 2008 ISATs. In math the increase went from 31% on the 2003 ISATs to 47% on the 2008 ISATs.

The percent of students in the “exceeds” category, however, drops substantially between third and eighth grade. On the 2008 ISATs, 40% of the District’s third-graders exceeded standards in reading and 56% in math; 17% of the District’s eighth-graders exceeded standards in reading and 43% in math. There are similar drops on a statewide basis.

Meeting AYP/School Data

This year 62.5% of the District’s students in each subgroup (i.e. white, black, Hispanic, Asian, LEP, IEP and low-income) were required to meet or exceed standards on the ISATs to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act. The District failed to meet AYP in reading for LEP and IEP students, but met AYP in all other categories.

Mr. Brinson reported that three schools failed to meet AYP: Washington failed to meet AYP in reading for Hispanic and LEP students, and Haven and Nichols failed to meet AYP in reading for IEP students.

Test results at the District’s schools varies. At Willard 96% of the students met or exceeded standards on the ISATs; at Oakton, the percentage was 73%. For African-American students, 85% met or exceeded standards in reading at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School; at Oakton, the percentage was 65%. Oakton showed the highest overall gain, with an increase of 4 percentage points over the prior year’s score.

Percentage of D65 students meeting/exceeding standards on 2003-08 ISATs

 

Reading   

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

Black   

43

51

51

64

69

74

Hispanic   

46

47

49

70

78

68

Asian  

79

83

 88

91

93

91

White 

89

92

94

95

97

97

IEP  

25

30

37

44

49

51

LEP  

31

35

33

64

71

49

Math 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

Black   

  51  

57

61

77

81

82

Hispanic 

  60  

61

58

80

83

84

Asian

93

90

92

96

95

96

White 

  92  

93

94

98

98

98

IEP 

33

37

45

58

63

64

LEP  

 41   

45

41

68

72

77

*A number of changes were made to the 2006 ISATs, which some critics say are responsible for or contribute to the higher scores: a) The State Board of Education sharply lowered the bar for eighth graders to meet standards in math on the 2006 ISATs; b) Students were given an extra 10 minutes per reading and math section; c) New questions were prepared by a new contractor; d) a new answer sheet made it more difficult to place answers in the wrong spot. State officials say a study was conducted to ensure uniformity of the tests. On the 2008 ISATs, limited-English proficient (LEP) students were required to take the ISATs, with accommodations, rather than taking the IMAGE test, which caused drops in scores of all subgroups containing LEP students.