District is improving, not making ‘Progress’

Morris Community High School District 101 did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress again this year, but school officials say that does not downgrade the improvements they are seeing in test scores.

As part of No Child Left Behind, every year the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards in math and reading on the Prairie State Achievement Examination goes up. The test is taken during junior year.This year, the percentage to be met is 85 percent of students. The majority of schools across the state struggle to meet the escalating percentages due to school sub groups.

Principal Kelly Hussey told the school board last week that the district’s students did not meet the AYP requirement. In reading, 54.5 percent of students at Morris High met standards, while 51.6 percent did so in math.

“One positive on our school report card is last year’s graduating class had an 88.8 percent graduation rate,” said Hussey.

The state rate is 82 percent.

Hussey pointed out that on the actual PSAE results Morris students did better than the state percentage in reading, English, science and in most math categories.

In reading, 62.6 percent of students got a sufficient number of questions correct, while the state’s average was 60.9 percent. In English, Morris had 62.6 percent of students meeting standards, while the state had 59.6 percent.

In science, Morris beat the state’s percentage in all three categories, and in Math, it did so in two of the three categories. In the other three, Morris was lower than the state by less than 1 percentage point.

Morris’ special education students have also increased their scores over the years. In 2005, 1.3 percent of these students met or exceeded state standards on the PSAE test. In 2010, it was up to 25.4 percent. The 2011 scores have yet to be announced. In 2010, the state’s percentage of special education students meeting or exceeding standards was 13.8 percent.

“We’ve made efforts to align special education and regular curriculum,” said Hussey.

Hussey also shared statistics on Morris high school’s college readiness benchmarks and ACT scores. In English, 65 percent of students meet the benchmarks versus the state’s 60 percent.

In math, 38 percent of morris students met to 39 percent of the state’s; in reading 46 percent of Morris students met benchmarks compared to the state’s 40 percent; and in science 29 percent of Morris students met college readiness to the state’s 27 percent.

For ACT scores, Morris scores on average higher than the state average in English, reading and science scores. For math, the school is below the state average only slightly.

The school continues to use this data and internal data to improve through the Rising Star program, said Hussey.

Teachers are gaining access to this information on a more immediate basis to help individual students right away, rather than getting the data the following year and it being too late to help individual students.

In addition, the district continues to lead local kindergarten through senior year articulation efforts to strengthen all related curricular materials that impact students, said Hussey.