Schools, parents and students across Illinois got a dose of bad news Thursday, as the Illinois State Board of Education released a performance report card that showed widespread drops in test scores.
Much of the decline in performance numbers reported in the 2013 Illinois Report Card is due in part to a revision in the way Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) are graded, making test results appear much different for students, schools and entire districts.
However, there seems to be a growing gap between outcomes in richer and poorer communities:
The push to toughen state exams for Illinois grade school students triggered widespread drops in 2013 scores, with hundreds of schools in some of the state's poorest communities seeing performances plunge, test results show.
But some schools in affluent suburbs — from Winnetka and Lake Forest to Hinsdale — saw far less severe declines. Even after the state made it harder to pass reading and math exams for third- through eighth-graders, those schools still posted some impressive results, a Tribune analysis found.
Chicago's top gifted and other selective-enrollment schools also posted extraordinarily high percentages of students passing the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in 2013.
While the drop in scores came from all different types of communities, news that schools in poorer communities fared worse follows an increasing divide across schools in higher and lower income areas.
A study released earlier this month by the Southern Education Center found that 70 percent of students in Illinois who go to school in urban areas live in poverty, and half of all public school students in 17 states come from low-income families.
Meanwhile, a number of charter schools in Chicago found out Wednesday their failing performance has placed them in jeopardy, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Five charter schools have been placed on the Chicago Public Schools academic warning list for failing to meet academic standards, CPS officials said Wednesday.
The schools on the list include Catalyst Circle Rock, Catalyst Howland, Chicago International Charter School Longwood, EPIC Academy and UNO Tamayo.
If those schools don’t improve their academic performance by June 2014, they could be closed, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told reporters in an afternoon conference call.
One of the schools—UNO Tamayo on the city’s South Side—is part of a network of charter schools that has been mired in a series of scandals, including an ongoing SEC investigation into how it spent money received from state-backed loans.
The chief executive of UNO is Juan Rangel, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 campaign co-chairman.