Last year's test results to finally be released

Last year's test results to finally be released

DANVILLE – The public finally should know next week whether Danville High School students met state learning standards in 2006.

Danville School District officials plan to release at Wednesday evening's school board meeting the long-awaited state standardized test scores for the eight elementary schools, two middle schools and the high school – if they're available.

"We still don't have the high school scores," Associate Superintendent Mark Denman said Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Illinois State Board of Education lifted an embargo on the scores for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test taken by third- through eighth-graders last year. Scores for the Prairie State Achievement Exam, taken by juniors, are supposed to be posted on the state board's Web site by Tuesday.

The scores are used to calculate whether schools are meeting the federal No Child Left Behind standards. If some schools do not achieve certain scoring targets or if they fail to make "adequate yearly progress" for two or more consecutive years, they face losing federal money and other sanctions.

Danville schools officials have been waiting on final scores since summer, Denman said. The data is used to help set student improvement goals for the next testing cycle.

But problems stemming from invalid test labels to computer problems to human error caused results to be delayed by several months.

Officials received preliminary ISAT scores last fall. "We had an overall score, but it wasn't broken down," Denman said.

"We didn't have the much more detailed information that we've had in the past."

They didn't receive final printouts until Feb. 20, Denman said. He added that the information was sent immediately to school administrators and teachers.

Late last year, officials announced that all elementary schools except Meade Park made adequate yearly progress.

"Our test scores for the elementary schools are in an upward trend, and we're pleased with that," Denman said Thursday. But "we had a slight decrease in reading and math at Meade Park."

And despite increases at North Ridge and South View in some areas, Denman said the middle schools failed to make adequate yearly progress because special-education students did not meet state reading standards.

"We still feel pretty good," Denman said. "We're working with our special education staff to improve that. It's a challenge because most of those students have significant learning challenges."

The report cards will come the week that elementary and middle school students are taking this year's ISAT.

From March 12-23, third- through eighth-graders will be tested in reading and math, Denman said. He said fourth- and seventh-graders also will be tested in science.

Denman said juniors will take the PSAE from April 24-25. They will be tested in reading, math and science.

"We are also adding writing this year," Denman said, adding that fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders will be tested. "Over the next two years, it will go into two more grade levels ... a grade at a time."

Denman said writing tests used to be part of standardized testing years ago, but the state cut the tests to save money. After concerns from teachers, the state reinstated them.

Though the scores did not come in time to help prepare for this year's testing, Denman said officials formulated school improvement plans based on 2005 data and put them in place early on. Schools have been preparing since last September, although intense preparation did not begin until January.

"We couldn't just sit on our thumbs until we got this information," Denman said, adding that teachers relied on data from assessment tests, chapter and unit tests and informal tests, as well as what they gleaned from daily interaction with students to plan instruction.

He pointed out that the state's reading and math benchmarks to make adequate yearly progress will move from 47.5 percent to 55 percent this year.

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