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Plainfield students fare well in national competency test

Some other local districts lag behind

Madhu Mayer | 12/16/2015, 4:36 p.m.

Compared to the state, juniors in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 are faring well on a national test that examines their competencies in English and mathematics. While some other local school districts have not kept pace with their counterparts across the state.

Glenn Wood, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for District 202, during Monday's school board meeting released results of the spring 2015 Illinois Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Most states voluntarily adopted new, more rigorous academic standards in 2010 and 2011 and teachers have been using PARCC in their daily instruction, he explained. Wood said only 11 states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia are testing students either online or the traditional paper and pencil route on mathematics and English language arts/literacy. District 202 juniors were tested online.

Educators believe many current state tests measure only lower-level skills. The new assessments, such as PARCC, serve as an "educational GPS system," assess students’ current performance, and point the way to what students need to learn by graduation so they are ready for college and/or a career, according to the PARCC Web site.

In the 2014-15 school year, five million students took the PARCC annual assessments in grades third to 11th, although not all participating states have students in all grades taking the test. Wood said this creates a dilemma as it is hard to compare the results of juniors versus elementary school students in other states and schools within Illinois. Also, students have the option of opting out of taking the test as it is not a requirement.

But a snapshot of PARCC results show that 38 percent of District 202 juniors met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC assessment, compared to 33 percent for the state. The average class size in District 202 is 23, and the graduation rate of District 202 students is 93 percent, with 49 percent ready for college. District 202 allocates $5,658 in instructional spending per student. Total enrollment in the district is 28,116.

Additionally, Wood said 41.2 percent of students who took the test in District 202 met or exceeded expectations in English language arts/literacy, compared to 37.7 percent for the state. Approximately 34.6 percent of District 202 juniors met or exceeded standards in mathematics, compared to 28.2 percent for the state.

For the first time, Wood said females fared better than their male classmates when it comes to English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Approximately 48.8 percent of girls met or exceeded expectations in English/language arts, compared to 34.3 percent of boys. Similarly, females again did better in mathematics, with 35.4 percent compared to 33.5 percent of males.

Comparatively, 32 percent of students in Valley View Consolidated Unit School District 365 U, which covers Bolingbrook and Romeoville, either met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC test. Following the test, 36 percent of students were declared ready for college. In that school district, 31 percent of students met standards in English language arts/literacy, compared to 32 percent for the state. In mathematics, the district proficiency rate was 27 percent, compared to 25 percent for the state. Valley View has 19 schools, ranging from elementary to high schools.

In Joliet School District 86, 22 percent of the students either met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC test, while the rate was 25 percent for Laraway Community Consolidated School District 70C in Joliet. With a state composite average of 29 percent, 20 percent of students in Joliet 86 and 24 percent of students in Laraway met overall test standards. In English language arts/literacy, 24 percent of students in Joliet School District 86 and 34 percent of students in Laraway met standards, compared to the state average of 32 percent.

In mathematics, 16 percent of Joliet School District 86 met PARCC standards, while the rate was 15 percent for Laraway Community Consolidated School District. The state average is 25 percent.

Joliet School District 86 has 19 schools, ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. Laraway CCSD 70C has only two schools, housing pre-kindergarten to eighth grade students.