In St. Charles Unit District 303, 11 of 14 elementary and middle schools saw scores decline on standardized tests taken last school year, according to state report card data released Tuesday.
Fox Ridge Elementary School in St. Charles had the biggest drop in the area, 10.1 percentage points, in the number of children who met or exceeded the state benchmark on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test administered in the spring.
The St. Charles district mirrors a regional and suburban trend. Of 147 elementary and middle schools within Kane and McHenry counties, 92 schools saw declines in test scores, while 53 schools showed improvement and two schools remained flat, according to report card data, which state leaders say could be updated later this week.
And of 540 suburban elementary and middle schools the Daily Herald reviewed, 309 saw decreases in meets/exceeds scores.
St. Charles school officials refused to discuss what may have caused the drop, saying test results will be discussed at a school board committee meeting later this month.
"As we evaluate the data throughout the district, we do notice drops in student performance in some grade levels and schools, and increases at others," district spokeswoman Carol Smith said in a written statement. "We want to emphasize that standardized tests are only one piece of information that we examine to understand student learning in our district, and is best examined across multiple years in aggregate form."
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But some schools showed gains. Prairie Knolls Middle School in the Burlington-based Central Unit District 301 gained 7.5 percentage points, notching 62.1 percent meets/exceeds. L.D. Brady Elementary in the East Aurora Unit District 131 more than doubled its meets/exceeds score, from 5.3 percent to 12 percent. McCleery Elementary School in West Aurora Unit District 129 gained 2.7 percentage points.
Bell-Graham Elementary in St. Charles was at the top, with 65.2 percent of its students meeting or exceeding the state benchmark.
Geneva school Superintendent Kent Mutchler echoed concerns of educators about the state report card in general and the PARCC test in particular.
"This report card provides baseline data for our students' progress moving forward and serves as one indicator," he said. "Many questions still exist about the long-term viability of the PARCC Assessment, but Geneva CUSD 304 is committed to using all data at our disposal to help our students become successful."
For high schools, the state changed the college entrance exam it uses to judge students this year, switching to a redesigned SAT that replaced ACT.
St. Charles North still came out on top compared to its neighbors. It had an average composite score of 1,148.9 -- the state average is 1,015, for the 1,600-point test. The state benchmark for meets or exceeds was 1,080, and the SAT sets 1,010 as its college-ready benchmark.