District 59 officials don't put much into state's 'underperforming' ranking

 
 
Posted11/9/2018 5:20 AM
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  • Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler addresses community members during a forum Thursday night about the district's test scores.

      Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler addresses community members during a forum Thursday night about the district's test scores. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • Four schools in District 59 were designated as "underperforming" in the 2018 Illinois Report Card, but district administrators don't put much into the test that measures schools.

    Four schools in District 59 were designated as "underperforming" in the 2018 Illinois Report Card, but district administrators don't put much into the test that measures schools. Courtesy of Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59

Despite a recent designation of four Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 schools as "underperforming" on state report cards, district officials and an education researcher on Thursday refused to put much weight in that ranking, or the standardized test where it comes from.

"For us, learning isn't about a test score or a PARCC score," said Superintendent Art Fessler, referencing results released statewide last week on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test administered to third- through eighth-graders.

During a community forum Thursday night at district headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Fessler and his team of administrators defended their work to bolster students' learning, while receiving pointed questions from a community group of parents and residents who continue to be upset with low test scores and the district curriculum.

In the newly released Illinois Report Card, Grove and Holmes junior high schools, and Brentwood and Juliette Low elementary schools received "underperforming" ratings, while the other 10 district schools were rated "commendable." On the extremes, schools can also be ranked "exemplary" or "lowest-performing."

Under the new state designations, schools are marked as underperforming for having one or more student groups that are falling behind. At Grove and Brentwood, English language learners didn't perform well on tests. At Holmes and Juliette Low, students with individualized education plans for having a learning disability didn't do especially well, officials said.

Juliette Low houses a special education program for District 59.

District officials invited Steve Cordogon, chairman of an advisory assessment review committee for the Illinois State Board of Education, to the forum to discuss his efforts to improve assessments on the state level. Cordogon, who also is the former director of research and evaluation for Northwest Suburban High School District 214, criticized PARCC for an inconsistent test and standards since the controversial program was adopted.

Instead, Cordogon presented his own analysis of District 59's scores on the PSAT -- a test given to eighth-graders -- that incorporated data on the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

"The test scores have some meaningful information, but they have to be qualified with demographics," he said. "You have a lot of well performing schools in this area."

Rating: Education adviser criticizes PARCC tests

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