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Student Achievement Shows Growth Despite Pandemic

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer and Director of Learning Michelle Jackson presented the 2022 assessment report to the Board of Education at its Nov. 29 meeting, which includes state standardized assessments that are used to create the state school report cards, and the NWEA Map assessment, which provides immediate results that educators use to assess both the academic programs and identify students who need additional supports.

Illinois Assessment of Readiness

IAR is a standardized assessment developed by the state that measures student knowledge and skills expected at a given grade level. IAR measures a student’s performance against a defined criteria for proficiency. This assessment helps give schools and districts a big picture of the effects of academic programming. Due to the pandemic, the assessment was not administered in 2020.

Percent Meets & Exceed ELA Standards 2017-2022

English Language Arts

The district-wide percentage of students who met or exceeded standards in ELA increased by 19 percentage points over the past seven years.  Over the past three years, factors that may have positively impacted achievement include the addition of a grammar program in both elementary and junior high and the addition of Amplify in grades 6-8 to support middle school students’ technical reading and writing skills.  The district will continue to refine the strengths and areas of need during the ELA curriculum review now in progress.

Percentage of Meets & Exceeds in Math 2016-2022

Math

The district-wide percentage of students who met or exceeded standards in mathematics increased by 16 percentage points over the same seven-year period. The district underwent a curriculum review process of mathematics in 2019-2020, which led to a number of significant changes in math instruction. The junior high adjusted the course pathways to ensure students are receiving the appropriate level of differentiation. A junior high math coach was hired who supports the teachers with professional development and instructional coaching and instructional time for math was increased in all grades. Elementary grades implemented a new math program, Bridges in Mathematics.

“Teachers implemented these changes in 2020-21 at the height of the pandemic,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer in presenting the data to the board. “To say they accomplished the impossible might sound like hyperbole but in the case of our teachers, I think it reflected their true accomplishment. The commitment they made to their own learning and working together to make it happen was an amazing thing.”

District-wide student achievement average did not dip from 2019 to 2022. Individual school scores also show a positive trendline since 2016. 

NWEA MAP

NWEA MAP is a computer-adaptive assessment. This means that two students sitting side-by-side could be asked different questions depending on their knowledge and skill level. If a child demonstrates readiness, the test gives them more challenging questions. If they struggle to answer questions correctly, the following questions will be easier.  Like the IAR, all of the questions a child sees on the test are aligned to state standards.

MAP results are available as soon as the child completes the test. The results help principals and their leadership teams analyze how well students in a particular school or in a particular grade or class are performing. Together with other data, the tests help identify students who need additional support or additional challenge.  At the district level, the data is used to help draw conclusions about overall student performance and reflect on changes made to the curriculum or programs.

In a typical school district in the U.S., 20% of students fall into each quintile or performance band. In District 28, 70-80% of students are performing in the highest two levels whereas a typical district would have 40% of students. On the other end of the performance scale, a typical district has 40% of students in the lowest two performance bands. District 28 has 5% to 15% of students in the bottom two quintiles. This allows our instructional math interventionists and reading specialists to focus in on supports for those students.

 In 6th grade, the version of MAP is called 6+, which means that students are likely to see questions at a higher level. Therefore, there may be a slight dip in student scores in fall of grade 6, which increases after fall testing. 

Science

The Illinois Science Assessment is an annual test, mandated by the state, in fulfillment of federal requirements. It is administered to 5th-grade and 8th-grade students. Like the IAR, the assessment is intended to measure the knowledge and skills students are expected to master in a given grade.

The district-wide data shows 84% of students meet or exceed standards. The district is nearing completion of the science curriculum review and will roll out updates next school year.

Board Reacts

“It’s important to recognize this is one data point and it’s important to maintain a growth mindset. However, these are objectively phenomenal results this year,” said Board President Tracy Katz Muhl. 

“Teachers, staff and students should all be proud. It was phenomenal work running two programs – remote and in-person - during the pandemic. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to stop and say thank you to everyone on the team for making it happen,” Katz Muhl said.

Review the complete 2022 Assessment Report, which includes cohort data and individual school data.

 Review the district and school report cards on the district website.