CHICAGO — Illinois education officials say improvements are being made but disparities remain as the state pushes students to improve on standardized tests.
Illinois is using the SAT college entrance exam to determine whether students are meeting academic standards, the Chicago Tribune reported. Students were given the test for free last spring, and were tested on math, reading and writing.
The College Board’s SAT scores range from 400 to 1600. Average scores in Illinois ranged from low 740s to the high 1300s, with wide performance differences at the more than 700 high schools statewide, according to Illinois Report Card data. The results also showed disparities among ethnicities, with black and Latino students generally scoring lower than white and Asian students.
For example, students at the selective enrollment Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago received the highest scores with an average of 1375. Other Chicago schools that exceeded scores of 1200 include Northside, Young, Jones and Lane Tech. But about a dozen schools in the Chicago Public School district posted the worst averages statewide, with average scores under 800.
The Illinois Report Card represents the broadest view on how schools are performing and includes data from state exam scores for high schools and grade schools, school finance, teacher attendance and evaluations, and enrollment and socioeconomic trends.
State School Superintendent Tony Smith said various improvements have been made, but that challenges remain. He said while four- and five-year graduation rates rose, the percent of graduates enrolled in remedial courses dropped from 49.4 to 46.8 percent in 2017.
“I would say that is worth noting, and good that’s it’s going down. But to me, that is a big area of work in this state,” Smith said. “We have too many kids who are still taking remedial coursework.”
Smith explained that the federal government required the state to set the same standards for proficiency. Ninety percent of students are estimated to be considered proficient and prepared for college and careers by 2032.
“Overall, we’re making progress,” Smith said.
The SAT results come after the state topped the national average of 21 with the ACT college entrance exam and exceeded national averages on percentage of students considered college-ready in English, math, reading and science.
ACT spokesman Ed Colby noted that while scores improved, the number of test takers has dropped by about 21,500 since 2016. Colby has said there’s a chance the number of students taking the ACT will drop again in 2018, because Illinois “administered the SAT to all students in that grad class.”
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com