For a second consecutive year, has failed to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, but so have 656 of Illinois’ 666 public high schools.
As part of the state’s accountability requirements Dist. 229 released its report card last week for its sole school that is available for viewing on the OCLHS website. (Patch has also uploaded the report.) Included in the report card are test scores, finance data and other information that detail the district’s performance.
Grade 11 students are required take the Prairie State Achievement Examination, the standardized test that is used to measure students’ performance. Under NCLB guidelines, 85 percent of students must be proficient in reading, math and science.
Overall, OLCHS saw in students’ test scores dip. A D229 press release stated that information in its most recent report card “represents a small fraction of the total evaluation process for our students in regular and special education, and it is within this context that the results should be viewed.”
This past year, about half of Illinois’ 11th-graders, who took the PSAE, scored at or above the 85 percent benchmark; only 46.6 percent of Oak Lawn students met this benchmark in 2010-11 standardized PSAE.
PSAE Test Scores
State Avg. 2010-11
Dr. Michael Riordan, the D229 superintendent and principal, said the dips in test scores were expected because of procedural changes in the test’s administration.
In previous years students that had not passed required courses or didn’t have enough credits to advance to grade 11 were withheld from testing until they achieved grade 11-status.
“Those students in the past used to be tested in a makeup test in the fall,” Riordan said. “Now the state requires all those students to be taking the test during the spring. It caused us to test some kids that otherwise would not have been part of that calculation.”
Oak Lawn’s graduation rate also decreased from 93 percent in 2009-2010 to 85 percent in 2010-11. The state average is 83 percent.
Riordan said this wasn’t unique to Oak Lawn Community High School because the state used to make exceptions for students that didn’t make credit requirements in four years or transferred to the high school already behind in credits.
“The state got much more strict with this,” he said. “Hopefully this is a one-year dip in the percentage of graduates. Things didn’t change but the calculation changed for us.”
Because the high school has failed to meet AYP or academic yearly progress, Oak Lawn is in its second year of “correction action planning status.”
Riordan also assumed the role of principal in addition to being the D229 superintendent.
“We have a very comprehensive and aggressive school improvement plan that was developed over the course of the last year using resources provided by the state,” Riordan said. “We are implementing that plan this year and will continue to do so next year.”
D229 also spent more money per student in the 2009-2010 school year than the state average.
Spending per student
In February, the Illinois State Board of Education plans to seek a waiver from some of the law’s provisions now that President Obama has authorized states to seek exemptions if they commit to reform efforts.
Specifically, the state wants an exemption from the requirement that all students must pass standardized reading and math tests by 2014.
At the end of the day, Riordan said there are a lot of different ways that students demonstrate academic growth. While the NLCB law is well-intentioned, it doesn’t take into account students’ different learning styles or special needs.
“What’s more important is looking at how kids are doing year to year,” he said. “The issue for our high school and most schools is that everything comes down to just one test on one day and everything is based just on that. I’m not saying it isn’t valuable it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
“My concern is more about the growth of different kids as opposed to meeting some arbitrary line in the sand.”