Revamped report card provides in-depth performance

Published: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 10:39 p.m. CDT

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The new Illinois Report Card has local school officials pleased with the showcasing of school district performance as opposed to a glance at test scores.

“The goal is to give a more comprehensive look at a district and individual school performance, instead of just snapshot of test scores it gives you and overall look at the district,” said Superintendent Pat Halloran of Morris Community High School District 101. “Not only from a public standpoint, but from a school standpoint as well, that’s a good thing.”

The new report card, by the Illinois State Board of Education, debuted last week at illinoisreportcard.com. ISBE said the tool was revamped to become more user-friendly for Illinois residents.

“The new, simplified report card represents more than a cosmetic change,” state Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch said in a news release. “This complete makeover reflects the comprehensive changes taking place in Illinois schools, from higher expectations in the classroom, increased collaboration among teachers and more meaningful academic data to show how well our students are progressing from one year to the next and whether they’re on track for college.”

It emphasizes measuring student and school progress instead of just giving a one-time-a-year glance at standardized test scores, according to the news release. It is meant to be a tool for parents, educators, officials and students.

It is a resource for school information on college readiness benchmarks to how much schools spend per pupil compared to the state average.

“They can get factual data right now [on school districts],” said Al Gegenheimer, superintendent of Minooka Community Consolidated School District 201.

“Parents can get a lot of information, and perspective parents who want to move into a district can get a lot of information from it,” he continued.

In addition to the statistics, school principals can input information, as well. Morris included what courses it offers as dual credit with Joliet Junior College and what advance placement classes it has.

Families can even look up what awards a school has won.

“That is detail that was never available before to highlight what happened at a school because it is certainly more than test scores at a school,” Halloran said. “It gives you more of a bigger picture. It’s beyond No Child Left Behind.”

The NCLB act requires school districts to meet Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, with a higher percentage of students required to meet AYP every year. AYP is based on several factors, but scores on standardized tests is a large component of it. The complaint of this measurement has been not showing student growth over time.

Superintendent Kent Bugg of Coal City Community Unit School District 1 said overall the information being provided is a step in the right direction, especially compared to AYP. But he said the amount of information could be difficult for parents to navigate and feels there is room for improvement.

A future aspect of the new report card will be the 5Essentials Survey. The 5Essentials Survey was taken by students and teachers to share their perspectives on conditions for learning.

The results of this survey are not completely available this year on the report card, but next year’s survey results will be.

“On the report card you will be able to get the feedback on what students and teachers said about the district,” Halloran said. “We’ve taken that feedback and the Rising Star team will take it and analyze it.”

Morris’ Rising Star School Leadership Team of administration, teachers, school board members and parents addresses what needs improvement at the school, how to accomplish it and holds the school accountable.

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