Illinois School Performance Dips Under New Grade Scale
Thursday's release of "report cards'' on school performance will show a drop in the percentage of students passing the Illinois Standards Achievement test last school year.
But that doesn't mean teaching or student performance has actually fallen.
Rather, the decline in scores is a result of the state board of education's decision to toughen the grading scale for grade schools so it matches that used by high schools.
This year, only 62 of 863 districts achieved growth benchmarks set under federal No Child Left Behind law, down from 152 last year.
Mary O'Brien is Director of Assessment for the Illinois State Board of Education. She said the change is part of implementing the tougher Common Core standards. O'Brien said this will be better for kids in the long run.
"Now Illinois students will be measured against college and career readiness benchmarks earlier, starting in third grade, to ensure that they're on track to succeed in high school and beyond," she said.
But if the old scoring method were still in use, more students would actually have made gains.
The change is part of the state's preparation to adopt more rigorous learning standards in the 2014-2015 school year.