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Valley View Fails to Make AYP, Sees Some Improvements

Valley View School District Superintendent James Mitchem says students are "are far more capable than scores may show.”

Valley View students failed to make adequate yearly progress on this year’s ISAT tests, according to information released by the state Monday.

But the district’s state report card does show signs of improvement—if you know where to look.

scores, which remained about flat this year, still rate behind state averages. But gains have been made on a grade-by-grade basis, administrators say.

According to the Illinois State Report Card, 72.3 percent of Valley View students met or exceeded Illinois learning standards on the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT). That’s below the statewide average of 76.5 percent and slightly below last year’s district mark of 72.8 percent. 

Under guidelines set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act, 85 percent of students must be proficient in reading and math by 2011, and 100 percent of students must be proficient by 2014.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a key measuring stick in the federal legislation.

said the state report card should be looked at as a “snapshot of achievement based on multiple years of instruction.”

“Most people will look at the scores based on previous years,” Mitchem said. “But a more accurate way to look at it would be by looking at cohorts of kids—by asking if last year’s third-graders, fourth-graders and fifth-graders are faring better.”

With that in mind, the percentage of Valley View elementary students meeting or exceeding state standards showed gains over the previous year.

  • 3rd-grade scores improved by 6.9 percent in reading and 3.7 percent in math.
  • 4th graders improved slightly in reading and dropped less than a percentage point in math.
  • 5th graders posted gains in both reading and math.
  • 6th graders improved in reading (79.8 percent met or exceeded expectations), but dropped from two percentage points.
  • Valley View 7th- and 8th-grade scores fell below state averages

Measuring student achievement at the high school level

Each spring, high school juniors take the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which measures the achievement of students in reading, math and science.

The state report card classifies student scores into four levels: academic warning; below standards; meets standards; or exceeds standards.

In reading:

  • 10.4 percent of Valley View high school juniors are in academic warning (10.1 percent statewide);
  • 47.1 percent are below standards (38.9 percent state);
  • 36.7 percent meet standards (40.7 percent state); 
  • 5.7 percent exceed standards (10.4 percent state).

In math:

  • 12.3 percent are in academic warning (10 percent state);
  • 47.8 percent are below standards (38.7 percent state); 
  • 35.9 percent meet standards (43.1 percent state);  
  • 4 percent exceed standards (8.2 percent state).

In science:

  • 8.8 percent are in academic warning (8.6 percent state);
  • 52.4 percent are below standards (42.2 percent state); 
  • 34.5 percent meet standards (39.8 percent state); 
  • 4.3 percent exceeds standards (9.6 percent state).

Are changes coming for No Child Left Behind?

Recent news reports have hinted about upcoming changes in the federal No Child Left Behind Act or even state waivers that would exempt some Illinois schools from certain provisions of the legislation.

“No Child Left Behind has increased accountability,” Mitchem said. “But the problem, perhaps even the fatal flaw, is that it operates under the premise that all kids enter the system at the same place. It’s not a true indicator of whether a district is successful or not. Our kids are far more capable than scores may show.”

Annie H. November 02, 2011 at 08:18 PM
I'm not surprised to see these results. I'm also not surprised to see all this finger-pointing - against teachers, the test, students, administrators, etc. Maybe, just maybe, if we all stopped pointing fingers and instead started working together we could find success like other school districts throughout the country. As for the PSAE, my kids told me there were kids who put their names on the tops of the tests and then either didn't do the test at all or they made designs with the answers instead of actually answering the questions. In other words, they could give a c*^p about the test. I truly believe that if we want to see our test scores rise, we need to do two things: first, we need to motivate the students by explaining to them why these tests matter - for them, their teachers, the district, etc. They need to have some ownership or buy-in, so to speak. Second, we need to worry more about what our kids are learning long-term instead of being so focused on teaching to the test. I'm constantly amazed at how little our kids these days seem to retain on any particular subject. Teaching to the test does NOT make a lifelong learner. I get it, we're stuck with these standardized tests. But, what can we do to work together to make the tests and the learning more effective for ALL students, no matter who they are or where they come from?
Warrior November 02, 2011 at 08:54 PM
From what I observe at high school is that kids are more interested in sending text messages or listening to there ipods then learning. It's a constant battle telling students to put away there phones or ipods. It's like there addicted to those devices. During passing period kids walk like snails and aren't in any hurry to get to there classes. Parents need to be more involved with there children. Most kids look like they've been up all night watching tv, texting, listening to music or out partying. I blame a lot of these problems on the parents. When I was younger and went to school, my parents made sure I did my homework and actually looked it over, then I was allowed to spend time outdoors or whatever. Today the kids tell there parents what there going to do. Until parents take back control of there kids, these problems will continue.
Candice W November 02, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Too bad the school district could not put a "performance contract" in place for the students/parents. Imagine the school district giving out vouchers worth let's say $10,000.00 to be used toward any public school tuition in the district. The public schools would have a tuition of $12,000.00; the students performing above state level would receive a scholarship for $2,000.00 and those that are below would need to make up the difference. That would light the fire under some parents!
Annie H. November 02, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Warrior - kids have no reason to do their homework when we have a 90/10 policy - 90% of grade is assessments and 10% is homework. You're right, parents need to take back the reigns and care more about what their kids are doing...or not doing. Candice, interesting concept. I'd just be happy to find more than a few parents who actually care and sadly, I don't even think money would motivate some of them.
Kay R. November 06, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Annie, I think you are right about testing and student attitudes. As I read over the various posts here, I think we could validly point fingers for the low scores in many directions....poor teaching styles, curriculum that teaches to the test and not mastery of subject matter, lack of parental supervision, poor attitude about learning from some students, and the list can go on. Learning and acheivement are complex processes and influenced by many factors. Some students just don't care. Some teachers have low expectations of some students and this impacts what and how they teach. Others students care about school but lack the skills to improve and may not have the support or resources at home to help them do this. In this situation, it's not always easy for the teachers or school to pick up the slack and keep a student from falling behind but every effort should be attempted to do this. Parents and teachers need to form an active partnership to help their students. I'd like to see the schools do away with standardized tests but these do maintain a sense of accountability within the schools. What I'm hoping we can see more of is the teaching of creative and problem solving skills. Our "teach to the test" culture in many schools seems to leave little time for this.

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