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updated: 9/30/2011 5:40 PM

Mobility rates put dent in Dist. 200 test scores

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Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials say a high rate of mobility in its enrollment has put a dent in its standardized test scores -- but also shows people move here to attend schools.

"I am not going to complain and it's not an excuse," Superintendent Brian Harris said. "It's just a different challenge we have. The mobility rate is up, meaning we have to pay attention to that."

Recently released standardized test scores show the district performed well compared to the state average.

Math scores held steady for the district while reading scores continued to decrease slightly. The scores come from the state's two standardized tests: the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Exam.

What remains unclear is how a new state initiative, the common core state standards, will affect the tests in the future. The state board will implement the new standards during the 2014-15 school year.

Harris said the district will adjust its focus to meet the new goals.

"That's our target," he said. "That is what we will focus on because two or three years down the road, that will be the new target."

But for now, math scores remain relatively high. About 94 percent of elementary and middle school students met or exceeded state standards. That number drops to 74 percent in the high school test.

In reading, however, the numbers at all levels continue to drop, most dramatically at the high school level, where 71 percent met or exceeded standards. That represents a 7 percent drop from just two years ago.

To make sure curriculum was not to blame, officials broke out data on students who have attended District 200 since kindergarten and found those students scored higher across all subgroups and grade levels.

For instance, 85 percent of high school juniors who have gone through the district since kindergarten met or exceeded standards in math. That stood in contrast to the 70 percent who moved into the district later and met that benchmark. In reading, 80 percent met or exceeded standards, higher than the 70 percent of mobile students.

"For students that move around, there is more of a chance that there is a disconnect between our curriculum and those of other schools," said Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Faith Dahlquist. "We build the curriculum so that there is a continuation from year-to-year."