Seniors in Maine Township High School District 207 did better than the district would have predicted, given the fact that the arrival of more low-income and limited-English-proficiency students in recent years.
That was the message Barbara Dill-Varga gave the District 207 school board Monday. She presented information on how the district's three high schools--Maine East, Maine West and Maine South--performed relative to state and federal standards. She also said students are showing substantial academic growth over the course of their high school careers.
Earlier: D-207 PSAE scores slip
The bad news that isn't so bad
First, none of the three schools made “adequate yearly progress” under the standards of the No Child Left Behind law, Dill-Varga said, but almost no schools in Illinois did meet the standard of this much-criticized law. The few which did meet AYP were selective schools, meaning they admit only a select number of students who can pass their entrance exams.
“We are in good company with most of the high school districts in Illinois in not making AYP,” she said.
The good news--students showed growth from frosh to junior year
But the students did show growth between their Explore tests, taken in the fall of their freshman year; their Plan tests, taken in the fall of their sophomore year; and the ACT, taken in the spring of their junior year.
Previously, the district set a benchmark of an increase of five points between the Explore and the ACT tests, Dill-Varga said. But that benchmark did not take into account the different demographics between the Maine South and Maine East high schools, both in Park Ridge, and Maine West High School in Des Plaines.
Nearly half of the students at Maine East and Maine West now come from low-income households or at-risk ethnic groups. Maine South has historically had a more affluent student population, but its percentage of students from traditionally disadvantaged groups has grown from under 5 percent to more than 12 percent since 2005.
Using a regression analysis, district staff plotted where they would predict scores on the tests would fall, based on the changing demographics, and the students outperformed those expected scores, Dill-Varga said.
“Does each school do better than predicted, given the changing demographics? Yes,” Dill-Varga said.
Don Marzolf, the director of grants and assessments for the district, said it’s a common kind of analysis for schools to look at.
“As the at-risk population grows, the predicted performance goes down,” he said. “We have seen achievement growing or holding steady.”
Even so, all three schools are developing plans to address the adequate yearly progress. Each principal will present his or her plan over the next three monthly school board meetings.