Illinois High School Test Scores Reach New Low

Nearly half of high schoolers fail, grade schoolers earn highest passing rate in years

By Jessica Guido
|  Thursday, Oct 20, 2011  |  Updated 10:02 AM CDT
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Prairie State Achievement Examination results are in, and the verdict looks bleak for Illinois public high school students.

Close to half of high school students flunked the state exams in reading, math and science, the Chicago Tribune reports. This is the worst performance in history by 11th grade students, according to examination reports released Thursday.

The results come after Illinois closed loopholes that prevented poor-performing juniors from taking the exam. The U.S. Department of Education found that 8 percent of seniors in high school skipped the state exam last year.

Currently, 50.5 percent of students passed the exam, a decrease of 53 percent in 2010. However, grade school students are setting an all-time high, with the highest record in a decade. In grades third through eighth, 82 percent of students passed the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests.

Steve Cordogan, director of Research and Evaluation for Township High School District 214, told the Tribune he believes "the ISAT is too easy and the PSAE is too hard."

The ISAT exam passing bar was lowered in 2006, but PSAE is a two-day exam including the ACT college entrance test. Some educators believe that more ill-prepared students are taking the high school exam, lowering the numbers.

In recent years, federal standards have increased the percentage of students that need to pass exams to avoid sanctions under No Child Left Behind.

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