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posted: 11/2/2016 12:22 PM

District 20 using multiple measures of student achievement

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  • Michael ConnollyInside District 20

    Michael ConnollyInside District 20

 
By Michael Connolly
Inside District 20

Each year at the end of October, the Illinois State Board of Education releases its annual report card for all 868 school districts in Illinois.

The state's report card provides communities with a variety of information such as student demographics, average teacher and administrator salaries, financial information, school climate, and student achievement information.

By far the most attention paid by the community and media to school report card information is, appropriately so, regarding student achievement. One of the major challenges we experience in reporting student achievement on school report cards is the one-dimensional nature of the data provided.

For each of the past two years, results from the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exam have been the measure used on school report cards to judge the achievement of the vast majority of elementary school students in Illinois.

Each child, each person, is a unique individual with a unique set of strengths and challenges. No child, no person, can sum up their growth and learning in one test score, and by design the PARCC is a snapshot of a student on series of days in the spring of the school year.

To fully assess how our children learn and grow, we must look at multiple measures across multiple contexts.

As we assess our students in Keeneyville Elementary District 20, we seek to do just that. Our students participate in a variety of assessments of learning throughout the school year so we are able to see the whole child and provide the supports they need to grow and achieve. Our teachers use multiple sources of data to inform their instruction and ensure that our classrooms are places that support the individual learning needs of students. And we see great things as a result.

We see continued student growth on our NWEA MAP assessments (given three times per year), with many students meeting their individual growth targets in mathematics and English language arts.

We see the majority of our grade levels performing at or above the national average on our NWEA MAP assessments. We see amazing growth in reading levels of students in kindergarten through fifth grade as evidenced by our Fountas and Pinnell reading assessments.

We are proud that 41 percent of our eighth-grade students pass Algebra 1 prior to entering Lake Park High School, 13 percent higher than the average across the state of Illinois. We see amazing growth in the maturity and social-emotional skills of our students, qualities that are hard to measure on a paper-and-pencil test.

The conversation in Illinois is heading in the right direction. There is broad consensus that schools must be accountable to the communities they serve, but that we also must do a better job as a state reporting the full story of the multiple ways in which our students learn and grow.

We are working hard to do just that at Keeneyville Elementary District 20 and we are proud of the results we are seeing.

If you would like to know more about the ways we know our children are learning and growing, call your local school principal. I know they'd love to show you what our kids can do.

• Michael Connolly is superintendent of Keeneyville Elementary District 20. His column appears monthly in Neighbor during the school year.

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