By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — This article is the last in a four-part series on Illinois School Report Card data.
MT. VERNON — Six out of the 13 rural Jefferson County grade schools are currently making adequate yearly progress standards, according to Illinois School Report Card data.
The schools in question are Bluford Elementary School, McClellan Elementary School, Grand Prairie Elementary School, Dodds Elementary School, Bethel Grade School and Ina Community Consolidated School.
The state's minimum target for meeting AYP was 93 percent for both reading and math. None of the six schools in question made that target for 2012-2013.
Even so, schools can also make AYP based on how much their test scores improve over time, which is how these six schools qualified.
“We're pleased that once again we made AYP,” said Scott Porter, Bluford's superintendent. “A lot of it comes from setting the proper climate in the classroom and getting kids excited about learning.”
In 2012-2013, 68 percent of Bluford students met or exceeded state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, compared to 62 percent the prior year.
In reading, Bluford's score was 65 percent for 2012-2013, compared to 57 percent the prior year. In math, the score was 71 percent, compared to 66 percent the year before.
A total of 65 percent of McClellan students met or exceeded the ISAT standards for 2012-2013, compared to 60 percent the prior year.
The school's reading score was at 62 percent, up from 50 percent, and the math score was at 68 percent, down from 70 percent.
Charles Peterson, superintendent and principal at McClellan, pointed out that the state raised the “cut scores” for last spring's test, making it harder to meet the ISAT standards.
Also, the AYP target has been increased further this school year, from 93 to 100 percent, which is not a realistic goal, Peterson said.
“You're never going to have 100 percent of all kids meet or exceed,” Peterson said.
Grand Prairie students had an overall ISAT score of 65 percent for 2012-2013, up from the prior year's 61 percent.
The school's reading and math scores were at 66 and 64 percent, respectively. The prior year's reading score was 57 percent and the previous year's math score was 64 percent.
Alan Estes, Grand Prairie's interim superintendent and principal, said state test scores are important but do not take into account social studies, art, PE and other key parts of education.
“We try and make sure they're a well-rounded student,” Estes said.
In 2012-2013, 57 percent of Dodds students met or exceeded the ISAT standards, up from 52 percent the year before.
Also, the school's reading score was 58 percent, up from 55 percent, and the math score was 56 percent, up from 50 percent.
Bethel's overall ISAT score for 2012-2013 was 48 percent, up from 34 percent. The reading score was 49 percent that year, up from 35 percent, and the math score was 47 percent, up from 33 percent.
“We're looking more at student growth than if we are meeting or exceeding,” said Craig Kujawa, Bethel's superintendent and principal. “Our students, staff and parents are working hard to show improvement.”
Ina's overall ISAT score for 2012-2013 was 43 percent, compared to the prior year's 36 percent. Reading was at 48 percent, up from 42 percent. The math score was at 37 percent, up from 31 percent.
Out of the 13 schools, Summersville Grade School actually had the highest overall ISAT score for 2012-2013 at 69 percent, but did not make AYP. Farrington Elementary School had the lowest overall score at 37 percent and also did not make AYP.
Tori Hartman, Summersville's assistant principal, said the 2012-2013 test scores were greatly impacted by two major changes.
One was the state increasing the performance expectations and the other was the state incorporating Common Core standards into the ISAT test for the first time, Hartman said.
“They raised the bar on the performance while also changing the test,” Hartman said.
Sandra Kabat, Farrington's principal and superintendent, said about 35 students took the ISAT last spring at her school. With that small a number, one student performing poorly can affect the overall percentage, she said.
Even so, Farrington officials are working to improve how their students perform academically, Kabat said.
“We're trying to stay proactive and not wait until the state tells us we have to do something,” Kabat said.
The remaining rural schools that did not make AYP are Rome Community Consolidated Elementary School, Woodlawn School, Waltonville Grade School, Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School and Field Elementary School.
For 2012-2013, Rome's overall ISAT score was 60 percent, Woodlawn's was 59 percent, Waltonville's was 55 percent, Opdyke-Belle Rive's was 54 percent and Field's was 48 percent.
To view all of the Report Card data for these schools, visit www.illinoisreportcard.com.