Students at three Wauconda Unit District 118 schools improved their performance on recent standardized tests enough for the buildings to reach federal goals something they didn't do last year.
Cotton Creek School and Matthews Middle School, both in Island Lake, and the Wauconda Grade School met the adequate yearly progress standards established under the No Child Left Behind Act. Officials credited new efforts designed to help low-performing students for the improved scores.
Wauconda Middle School also met the standards, as it did last year.
The district's remaining two schools Crown Elementary and Wauconda High School did not meet the federal standard. Overall, District 118 did not hit the mark.
The school report cards are based on pupils' Illinois Standards Achievement Test and Prairie State Achievement Examination scores. The new results are based on tests taken this past spring.
District 118 Superintendent Daniel J. Coles attributed the three schools' improved scores to new educational strategies that were individually tailored for students in certain groups, such as those kids who speak English as a second language or are special-needs students with individual education plans.
Reading was a particular target, Coles said.
The students improved enough for the schools to reach "safe harbor" status, a provision that recognizes the work of pupils in such groups who don't meet standards but show growth, Coles said.
"I'm happy for the staff and the students and the parents and the administration of those schools," Coles said.
When asked about the two schools that didn't achieve passing marks, Coles echoed what many other educators in similar situations have said for years: It's unfair to give kids with special needs or who don't speak English as a primary language the same test as other students.
Under the current No Child Left Behind rules, Cole said, a Spanish-speaking high school student who has just moved to Wauconda would be judged the same on the Prairie State's reading test as American-born students who've been speaking English their whole lives.
"It makes no sense," he said.
Coles believes most parents don't judge the schools based on the No Child Left Behind standards. Schools and the news media have publicized the law's flaws, he said, and parents recognize them.
He hopes parents rate schools based on their own children's progress and their relationships with teachers.
"No one can argue the notion that no child should be left behind," Coles said. "But how you determine that is another story."