Report card is in for 2016 Illinois Science Assessment

Report card is in for 2016 Illinois Science Assessment

Nearly two years after the state rolled out a new statewide science exam, the results are finally in.

The Illinois State Board of Education released the 2016 Illinois Science Assessment scores that show how well fifth-graders, eighth-graders and high school biology students mastered the state's learning standards for science, which incorporate the national Next Generation Science Standards.

It's the first time schools and families have seen state science test scores since 2014. ISBE didn't give a science exam in 2015, saying students shouldn't be tested on outdated standards, and officials blamed the delay in administrating, scoring and reporting the 2016 test on the lack of a state budget for more than two years.

While state Superintendent TONY SMITH called the delay "unacceptable," he said officials have received positive feedback on the test, designed to reflect classroom experiences and push students to apply their knowledge, better preparing them for college and careers.

Students' scores, between 200 and 400, correlate to "proficient" or "not proficient" performance levels, with 296 being the cut-off for fifth-graders, 293 for eighth-graders and 307 for high-schoolers.

Statewide, results show that close to 60 percent of grade school students were proficient, while only 39 percent of high school students were.

It's difficult to explain the difference in performance at the different grade levels. Said ISBE spokeswoman JACKIE MATTHEWS: "This is one year of data, so there's only a small amount of conclusions we can draw from it."

The 2017 scores are expected to come out in February. Neither the 2016 test nor the 2017 results will count toward accountability for schools and districts.

Students will take this year's test between March 1 and April 30. The percentage of students scoring in the proficient performance level will contribute 5 percent of each school and district's balanced accountability rating beginning in 2020.

Here are a few highlights of how area districts did.

1.

Most fifth-graders performed at the "proficient" level, including 90 percent at tiny Armstrong-Ellis, which had the highest mean score in the area — 329.

Close behind were Prairieview-Ogden (318), Gifford (312) and Monticello (311).

On the lower end were Bement (288); Ludlow and Georgetown-Ridge Farm (287); Rantoul City Schools and Thomasboro (285); and Danville (284).

2.

Most eighth-graders also showed a solid mastery of the standards. Mahomet-Seymour, Monticello and St. Joseph's mean score was 314; Bismarck-Henning's was 313; and Rossville, Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Tuscola's was 306; and Villa Grove's was 305.

Falling behind were Westville (276); Danville and Rantoul City Schools (283); and Hoopeston (286).

3.

High school scores, in general, were lower, but a few performed well. They include Unity (318), Mahomet-Seymour (316), Monticello (315), Fisher (312) St. Joseph-Ogden (310) and Tuscola (307).

Just missing the cut were Armstrong Township (304); Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (303); Bismarck-Henning, Oakwood and Heritage (302); and Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond (301).

At the lower end were Urbana and Villa Grove (299); PBL, DeLand-Weldon and Westville (298); Champaign and Bement (296); Rantoul Township (295); Hoopeston (294); Danville and Cerro Gordo (292); Salt Fork (290); and G-RF (282).

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