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Schools fail to push students on state tests

Cameron Watson listens during his Algebra 300 class at Downers Grove North High School, Monday, October 25, 2010. The school met the federal testing target for math scores. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)

Cameron Watson listens during his Algebra 300 class at Downers Grove North High School, Monday, October 25, 2010. The school met the federal testing target for math scores. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)

Thousands of Illinois schools are like mediocre students: Most of their pupils are passing — but not distinguishing themselves — on state achievement exams.

Illinois Standards Achievement Test results set to be released Friday reveal that pushing students to think and perform at higher levels has been elusive for the vast majority of public schools, even in affluent communities with involved parents.

Among more than 3,000 schools testing third through eighth graders this year, 24 percent of students scored in the most advanced level — “exceeds standards” — in reading, and 28.5 percent scored at that level in math, a Tribune analysis found. The majority of students met the lower threshold of “meets standards” to pass.

The Tribune combined all tests taken in various grades at each school in the state to calculate the percent of students scoring in the top category, finding dramatic differences even when schools had the same overall passing rates.

For example, 17 schools had 100 percent passing rates in reading. But the number of students scoring in the “exceeds” category at those schools ranged wildly — from 9.1 percent to more than 90.

The Tribune’s analysis found that north Cook County schools had the highest showing of students scoring in the exceeds category in the Chicago region, in both reading and math, followed by DuPage and then Lake County schools.

In the Chicago suburbs, Hough Street Elementary School in Barrington had the highest percentage of students — 70.6 percent — scoring at the advanced level in reading.

Teachers are collaborative and literacy has been a focus for many years, said principal Lori Wilcox.

In addition, “Barrington parents want the best for their kids and they are very supporting,” Wilcox said. “We have parents reading with their kids at home.

For the story: chicagotribune.com.

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