Dist. 88 improves big on PARCC test; top-ranked schools remain on top
In a year of so-so results on state standardized test scores, Addison Trail and Willowbrook high schools showed some marked improvement, according to data released Monday.
Last year, only 19.5 percent of students in DuPage High School District 88 high schools met or exceeded expectations, well below the state level of 33 percent on the 2015-16 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test administered this spring to third- through 10th-graders for the second year.
Addison Trail and Willowbrook in Villa Park this year ranked above the state average, which increased to 33.4 percent. Even more notably, both schools saw the biggest percentage point increases in DuPage County of students not only meeting or exceeding but also approaching expectations.
"We really appreciated the hard work and effort that both buildings put in, by taking this test seriously," Superintendent Scott Helton said. "It was about compliance and doing what was right."
The three categories -- meets, exceeds and approaching -- combined accounted for 39.9 percent of Addison Trail students in the first year of PARCC testing, but 58.6 percent in the second year. In Willowbrook, 47.4 percent of students fell within the three categories the first year, compared to 66.5 percent the second year.
More than 600 schools in Cook, DuPage, Kane Lake, and McHenry counties surveyed by the Daily Herald saw declining proficiency scores.
In District 88, there's still room for improvement -- considering the meets/exceeds/approaching categories typically account for 80 to 90 percent of students in top-ranked districts -- administrators said they are pleased with the progress that was made.
Adam Cibulka, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said one of the biggest changes the district made the second time around was testing over just two days. He said focusing on English for one day and math the next was beneficial to students, compared to testing over multiple days, as the district did with the first year of the test.
Willowbrook Principal Dan Krause and Addison Trail Principal Michael Bolden said they also regularly communicated with students and their families in advance of the test to make sure they understood why they were taking it and how it would be set up.
"We really tried to talk to them about the expectations for performance, for us as a school and as a district," Bolden said.
On the whole, though, the top-ranked schools in DuPage County have remained on top.
Schools in Naperville Unit District 203, Indian Prairie Unit District 204, Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, Lisle Unit District 202 and Butler Elementary District 53 in Oak Brook were among the highest-achieving.
At the elementary level, seven of the 10 highest achieving schools remained the same. All three newcomers to the list -- Madison, Oak and Elm elementaries -- are from Hinsdale Elementary District 181.
Hinsdale schools also took over two spots in the top 10 ranking for highest-achieving high schools. Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South are now on the list, replacing Glenbard West and Glenbard South high schools.
Glenbard High School District 87 had the biggest drop in the county of percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards on the PARCC. All four of the district's high schools saw significant decreases in both categories and the district now falls short of the state's level.
Last year, 37.4 percent of Glenbard students met or exceeded expectations; this year, the number has dropped to 26.6 percent.