Friday, September 22, 2017

Most Illinois students still not reading, adding at grade level

Most Illinois students still not reading, adding at grade level, Metamora Herald

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois News Network

Nothing in Illinois' new education reform package requires schools across the state to do better. And one state lawmaker says that's a shame, because the latest test scores show Illinois schools are once again falling short.

Almost 70 percent of students in third through eighth grade in Illinois can't read or write at grade level, according to the latest PARCC test scores released last week.

The Illinois State Board of Education said, on average, 37 percent of students passed the test's reading portion and just over 31 percent of students passed the math skills portion of the test.

Sate Rep. Joe Sosnwoski, R-Rockford, said it's a shame that Illinois' new, massive education reform package didn't include anything about better outcomes.

"Structurally, there's no incentive for them to improve," Sosnowski said. "We created a hold harmless in the budget. That basically says all schools will get exactly what they got last year. And there will be some additional monies [for schools in poorer districts] through a formula."

Sosnowski said school choice may be the only option to get kids on track with reading and math.

"Unfortunately, the educational bureaucratic system has not changed a whole lot over the years," he said. "And more money into that system doesn't guarantee results. It just increases payroll and spending."

The State Board said the latest scores do show improvement. ISBE points to a half-a-point increase in average reading scores over last year as proof.

“The preliminary state-level data show that we have built a solid foundation,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said in a statement. “I am pleased with the work we are committed to doing together to serve Illinois children.”

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