Friday, October 31, 2014

Hot off the Press: 2014 Illinois School Report Cards Have Been Released, Along with School Rankings

Just like last year, at midnight, the 2014 Illinois School Report Cards and the official rankings were finally released for everyone to see.

The Top 50 Schools were ranked for each category:  Elementary, Middle and High School.

D86 High School our students will attend:  Last year, Hinsdale Central High School ranked 4th in the entire state.  This year, it dropped 2 spots to rank

The top 5 high schools were 1. Payton College Prep (Chicago, ranked #1 in 2013), Northside College Preparatory (Chicago, ranked #2 in 2013), Young Magnet H.S. (Chicago, ranked #3 in 2013), Jones College Prep H.S. (Chicago, ranked #5 in 2013) and New Trier (Winnetka, ranked #6 in 2013).  We were glad to see that while HCHS dropped slightly, it is still in the top 6 high schools in the state.

D181 School Rankings:  Before we review the rankings, we want to remind you of some of the statements Superintendent White made in the letter he sent to D181 parents on Thursday, October 30. He stated:  "It is important to note that the ISAT cut scores were raised from 2013 to 2014 to prepare students, staff, families and schools for the more rigorous Common Core Standards.  The assessment also included questions designed to better align to the new standards.  We must therefore be cautious in drawing conclusions when making year-to-year comparisons in ISAT results.  The new cut scores do not mean that our students know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years.  Instead, it means that the state expects a higher level of procedural and conceptual knowledge be demonstrated to meet and/or exceed grade level standards."

Since all Illinois students were judged using the same cut-scores as D181 students, we were curious to see of our schools would rank the same or higher than they did last year, and how our schools performed in relation to  schools that performed worse than ours last year. The results were very troubling for most of our schools.

Middle Schools:

The news was not good for Hinsdale Middle School (HMS) or Clarendon Hills Middle School (CHMS).  After dropping in the rankings from 2012 to 2013, they both had a precipitous drop in rankings in 2014. In 2013 both schools ranked in the top 50, but both dropped out of that tier in 2014.

Hinsdale Middle School dropped from from 27th to
63rd in the state (after dropping from 22nd in 2012). 

CHMS dropped from 32nd to 74th in the state,  (after dropping from 26th in 2012). 

Butler Middle School in Oak Brook, the district D181 most often compares itself to -- and is a feeder school into Hinsdale Central -- also dropped in the ranking from 15th in the state in 2013 to 57th in the state in 2014.

While Butler also dropped in the rankings, as with last year, a divide still exists between the performance of students at Butler and those in D181's middle schools. This is troubling since our students must compete with Butler students at Hinsdale Central and the scores continue to show that Butler students enter high school better prepared than D181 students.  

More concerning, however, was the fact that while our two middle schools plummeted in the rankings, those in the Top 20 were either stable or included schools that had tremendous increase in their rankings, despite the new cut-scores that Dr. White referenced in his letter.  

We looked at what schools ranked in the Top 20, to see if there has been much movement up or down by schools since last year. Seven of the schools that ranked in the Top 10 last year, remained in the Top 10.   Nine of the schools that ranked in the Top 20 last year, remained in the Top 20.  But eleven of the schools in this years Top 20 were not on last year's Top 20 list.  In fact, some of the 2014 top middle schools were not even ranked in the Top 100 last year.  Somehow, despite the new cut-scores, and more rigorous questions asked on the ISAT test in anticipation of next year's PARRC assessment, these schools excelled. 

So what happened to D181's middle schools?  Parents should demand an explanation from Dr. White and Dr. Schneider.

Top 50 Illinois Middle   Schools

2014 RankSchoolLocation2013 Rank2012 RankPercentile
1Keller Elem Gifted Magnet SchoolChicago3396.1
2Edison Elem Regional Gifted CntrChicago2193.9
3Lenart Elem Regional Gifted CtrChicago3490.9
4Skinner Elem SchoolChicago7789.3
5Iles Elem SchoolSpringfield6688.9
6Lincoln Elem SchoolChicago121087.6
7Hawthorne Elem Scholastic AcademyChicago8987.2
8Bell Elem SchoolChicago111384.8
9Edgebrook Elem SchoolChicago354284.5
10Young Magnet High SchoolChicago1283.5
11Coonley Elem SchoolChicago13733782.7
12The Joseph Sears SchoolKenilworth221882.5
13Lisbon Grade SchoolNewark416782.3
14Bartelso Elem SchoolBartelso423679.5
15Fairview South Elementary SchoolSkokie17318979.2
16Blaine Elem SchoolChicago364578.2
17Jackson A Elem Language AcadChicago233577.4
18Hollis Consolidated Grade SchPeoria26018576.5
19Rondout Elem SchoolLake Forest17911876.1
20Jefferson Elem SchoolMetropolis18217775.7

Elementary Schools:

In terms of pure rankings, there was good news and bad news for our 7 elementary schools. Three of our schools moved up in the rankings.

Madison moved up to 20th place after ranking 30th in 2013 and 41st place in 2012.  

Lane moved up to 21st place after ranking 49th in 2013 and 36th place in 2012.  

Monroe moved up to 67th place after ranking 108th in 2013.

The other four schools dropped in the rankings.

Oak School dropped to 29th place after ranking 15th in 2013 and 27th in 2012.  

Elm dropped to 45th place after ranking 38th in 2013 and 28th in 2012.  

Walker dropped to 54th place after ranking 24th in 2013 and 35th in 2012.  Percentage of 

Prospect had the most precipitous drop in rankings, ranking 57th in 2014 after ranking 18th in 2013 and 22nd in 2012.

Just like last year,  Oak Brook's Brook Forest Elementary School beat out all of D181's elementary schools.  This year it dropped in rankings to 19th place, after ranking 11th in 2013 and 13th in 2012, but it still stayed in the top 20 schools and was well ahead of all but two of D181's (Oak and Lane).

As with the Middle School rankings, we looked at the Top 20 Elementary School rankings to see how those schools had fared.

Six of the 2014 Top 10 schools ranked in the Top 10 last year. Thirteen of the 2014 Top 20 schools ranked in the Top 20 last year as well.   So the new cut-scores didn't seem to have much of a negative impact on them.  Six of the 2014 Top 20 schools moved up significantly in ranking, with 3 schools in Buffalo Grove moving from 105th to 12th place,  from 88th to 16th place, and 77th to 18th place.  Obviously the new cut-scores had no negative impact for these three schools.  Perhaps Dr. White and Dr. Schneider should investigate just what District 96 ( and 102 ( in Buffalo Grove are doing in curriculum instruction to prepare its students so well to take this test.

When last year's rankings came out, we hoped that the "Administration closely analyzes the final data now available from the state and report to the community why some of our schools are falling behind and why we cannot seem to keep pace with the Oak Brook schools."  (10/31/13 Post Instead of doing this analysis, Dr. Schuster "celebrated" our district's dismal results. (11/2/13 Post).

Top 50 Illinois Elementary Schools

The top 50 elementary schools in 2014, with rankings in 2012 and 2013. "Percentile" reflects the percentage of Illinois students who scored the same as or worse on standardized tests than the average student at each ranked school.
2014 RankSchoolLocation2013 Rank2012 RankPercentile
1Skinner North Elem SchChicago1197.4
2Decatur Classical Elem SchoolChicago2395.8
3Edison Elem Regional Gifted CntrChicago3493.9
4Keller Elem Gifted Magnet SchoolChicago4293.8
5McDade Elem Classical SchoolChicago9993.7
6Half Day SchoolLincolnshire141293.6
7McKenzie Elem SchoolWilmette284493.3
8Romona Elem SchoolWilmette352191
9Lincoln Elem SchoolRiver Forest121889.6
10Iles Elem SchoolSpringfield81188.7
11Hoover Math and Science AcademySchaumburg172588.4
12Earl Pritchett SchoolBuffalo Grove10512188.3
13Lenart Elem Regional Gifted CtrChicago5488.1
14Prairieview-Ogden North ElemRoyal87.9
15Washington Gifted SchoolRockford7687.7
16Tripp SchoolBuffalo Grove8811287
17Skinner Elem SchoolChicago6786.9
18Ivy Hall Elementary SchoolBuffalo Grove776686.7
19Brook Forest Elem SchoolOak Brook111386.3
20Madison Elem SchoolHinsdale304185.8


This year, we once again challenge the D181 administration to dig "deep" into the ISAT scores and state rankings and report to the parents, teachers and students what conclusions it has reached about why most of our schools dropped in the rankings, while other schools in Illinois remained stable or significantly went up in the rankings.  

Will Dr. White direct the Department of Learning to evaluate the data?  Will he direct the Department of Learning to look at districts that showed significant improvement in the face of the dreaded "cut-scores" that he suggested in his letter to parents might impact our school's performance?  Will the Board of Education Members -- other than Mr. Heneghan and Ms. Garg who we are confident will -- demand answers to these questions?  Will Mr. Turek finally step up to the plate and demand accountability, especially as he ponders a run for reelection?  Stay tuned.  We'll report back if there is any action taken by the administration or Board of Education.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.
Didn't Madison and The Lane use ability groups this past year? Could this explain why they moved UP in the rankings? As a Madison parent, I'm concerned Mindy has eliminated ability groups and has promoted full inclusion this year. Our ranking will tumble next year. Oh, but she is retiring.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought. Monroe has full inclusion. Year 3 of it.

Anonymous said...

You can be White and Schneider will spin the ISAT results and blame Schuster. Sorry, that won't convince parents because White has already put his stamp of approval on what Schuster and Schneider started years ago.
White should be embarrassed today.

Anonymous said...

The Lane doesn't have full inclusion-and that school ranked much, much better than Monroe.

No one will do a complete analysis of the data (yet we are paying someone to do it!)- so it's difficult to pinpoint what's really happening.

Anonymous said...

How long do you think it'll take them to actually send something to the community commenting on these abysmal rankings? Shall we hold our breath?

Anonymous said...

And when they do, will they tear to use the word celebration? No doubt they will focus on Madison and The Lane and probably throw some kudos to Monroe. But while Monroe did rise in the rankings, it's ranking is nothing to be proud of. The only analysis we can really glean from it is that without A certain principal, things improved. Imagine how things might improve in our district if she wasn't here at all?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the middle school rankings dropped because the math materials they have been using (without CC supplements) were purchased in 2006!! And, perhaps the fact that our elementary schools haven't (in some cases) been doing an adequate job of preparing our students for the rigorous challenge of middle school is impacting what has happened there. There has been so much focus at the elementary level (none of which has improved scores or student learning for MANY kids)that the middle schools have gotten almost no new technology or materials. And, let's not forget that 2 years ago the administration started lowering the entrance criteria for all advanced and accelerated classes which requires teachers to teach to too many ability levels, teaching none of them as well as they used to be able to. Give our middle school teachers the resources they need and let them do their jobs.

jay_wick said...

Part ONE of TWO

Ok, yet another two parter for me. I wish I could earn some cash for these...
The fact is testing in schools is inherently something that is filled with the kinds of things that lend themselves to fancy interpretations that one learns on the path toward earning a teaching certificate. I have not made my living as a teacher for many many years, but I did take my preparation exceedingly seriously and I keep up with all the details in the various reform efforts.

Folks, in all honesty there are good reasons to NOT FREAK OUT over these test results.

Firstly, I have been saying for a VERY LONG TIME that the ISATs are extremely poorly constructed tests. I said that when the kids were "knocking 'em out of the park" and I will say it now. It is not "sour grapes" in the least, it is because of the way that these tests are designed and scored and I will elaborate on that. I suspect it will be WORSE with the full blown PARCC and I suspect some of the national power types want to scare people.
For district like ours these tests tell us almost nothing, and even in districts that have major issues, the constraints of the testing do little to help fix any of the problems that such districts may have.

Secondly I know from looking at the results of my own children on these tests as well as that of neighbor's that there is no reason to think these tests show our district really "falling behind" in any meaningful way.

Part of the explanation for why people should not freak lies in the break down of which schools are still in the top and which are not. There are basically three categories of schools at the top of the heap. If anyone has any knowledge of these schools they would know which schools fit into which categories.

The first category are the magnet schools. These are schools that are increasingly selective in Chicago as there has been a decided uptick in higher income families choosing to rely on CPS. At this point in time the kids in CPS magnet programs are truly the brightest around. There are no learners with special needs and it would be similar to comparing just the kids taking AP courses at our local schools to the whole population of the magnet schools. That is indisputable and it is again something that probably is not "fair" but it does allow folks that want to pump-up urban living something with which to tweak those of us out in leafy suburban splendor.

The second broad category of schools are those that really put on the "full court press" to tackle the challenges of Common Core. Some schools have been working on this for years. Remember this iteration of the ISATs incorporated PARCC-style questions. There are some schools that have invested countless hours of staff training and preparation for Common Core and those are likely the ones that "nailed" the new questions. I grudgingly applaud those schools but remain skeptical to see if those gains will be other than transitory or translate into more of their students gaining admission to the most selective colleges / other long term success.

The third category includes those districts that have a long established philosophy of dissecting any standardized tests, systems in place to analyze which students need additional support to master new assessments and the resources to deliver that support. Clearly our district is not in that category but for a variety of reasons, that by itself does not concern me. Frankly districts like that often attract an abundance of dissatisfied parents that then go on to complain loudly about how intrusive any such specialization becomes. From my perspective that is too narrow a focus on standardized testing and it makes it harder to have things like well regarded arts education that to my knowledge is no program of standardized testing to assess creativity... (that is a my own little inside joke)

jay_wick said...

Part TWO of TWO

All that said, I think there are few special cases that are also worth noting.

I know that tests like this really hurt districts with very small student populations. In educational-ese these are "floor biased" tested designed to test MINIMUM competency. That means that no matter how nice an environment you provide for kids that have extra difficulty learning and how much growth they have as individuals the deficit that they'll have compared to the "norm" hurt tremendously AND no matter how far above minimum the brightest kids perform there is no offsetting "bonus".
That is just how these tests work. I am not talking about the kids whose needs are so profound that they are exempt from standardized testing but children that just are not going to get the "grade level" at the same pace as others.

Play around with some scenarios on a spreadsheet and you will quickly see that the smaller a student population the WORSE the impact of those kids doing poorly pulls you down.
The other special cases are that of schools which large percentage of students who do some things far above grade level. In analyzing the expected format of answers it is clear to me that students with high ability but low tolerance for 'immature' questions almost certainly were penalized for answers that according to the rubric were not complete. Again this strikes me as more than a little humorous but I have seen this before and the real value of such "baby steps" questions is apparently something that we can either laugh about or use an excuse to hold back students that are capable of work far beyond the norm.

I have a fairly deep knowledge of D53. In smaller district like D53 this one-two punch really pulls down the numbers. Given the profile or our district's advanced learners, one can see how it also hurts us, though not as much. The fact in our bigger schools we just have a population that distributes itself more uniformly along the bell shaped curve.

Some of these justification may make me sound just as bad a hand waver as some of our district staff.
I hope folks see that I don't have anything to gain or lose by just explaining where these numbers come from.

Beyond that though everyone should ask themselves why we spend so much time with these elaborate results. I get the reasons for the newspapers running stories:People want to know that things are not falling apart. Or maybe they want confirmation that things are awful.
Sure, I like to see our towns spotlighted in magazine lists. I completely understand the monetary value of folks deciding on a costly home buying decision being driven by the various rankings. These are, however, NOT how these tests are sold. Remember it is ALWAYS about "how far behind Americans are compared to Finnish kids, or the kids in Japan or France" Whatever. The evidence of kids in nice homes in D181 being behind the Finns or French or whatever is non-existent. It just is not there. You could say it because no education professor cares to research kids in an area like ours (and you'd probably be right) but believe me when you look across the whole country you do not find too many areas even with similar level of affluence with such a uniformly desirable system of schools.
And if we extrapolate to the usual argument of the cleaver-wielding nut-cases that want to slash music classes and art classes and get rid of the air conditioning or playground or toilet paper make the next biggest lie you hear is "the lazy unionized workforce is letting the kids get behind". Again, not something that you hear from any sane community members in our neck of the woods (though the crazies would like to put it to a referendum...).
So please be a Citizen FOR Education and find someway to oppose the lunatics that will use these results in their own sick ways to HURT the long term values that we cherish.

The Parents said...

Jay Wick: please don't give Schneider and White any more wiggle room to make excuses for our district's declining scores. The reality is that whether it is ISATs, MAP or in class assessments, the Dept of Learning has collected data and done nothing with it. Why? Because they don't know how. Perhaps you think that Schneider is doing a good job and should stick around running all of the curriculum department. If so, just say so. If not, stop giving them more excuses to latch onto.

jay_wick said...

Yo Blog Hosting Parents--

I think I rip pretty hard on various members of the district staff. If they are trying to get "excuses" from me they are looking in the wrong dark alley.

I have said many time before I want to see our district return to a real path of excellence. I want to see as many kids given as much opportunity as possible.

We could have a much better organization for delivering better instruction to kids across the whole range of learners. Back when we had staff that believed such things were the best use of their time we were doing that much more effectively and our good test results were just a happy result of that NOT THE SOLE FOCUS!

In that same vein. once upon a time we had a plan to deliver foreign language instruction to all students, enhance science instruction, have a continually evolving technology plan and many more things that all curiously have been dead-ended so that we can instead worship at some supposed alter of social justice and achieve some ephemeral "inclusiveness" that seems to roughly translation into "let some staff members get away doing whatever they want while the job they were allegedly hired to do goes undone".

I appreciate the time The Parents put into this blog but I am pretty sure you also realize how much time I put into holding our elected officials feet to the fire in both D181 and D86 as well as whole lot of other setting too.

A little perspective goes a long way toward making a believable argument.
If any of the district staff have to rely on ME for cover of their obvious lack of attention to the job they allegedly were hired for they of course should be summarily dismissed. I write this post literally while I am at the water cooler at my real job. What does that say about the people our district pays a full time salary?

Jill Quinones said...

I have not looked at any of this in detail yet, but here are a few of my initial thoughts.

First, I think a better analysis of ISAT is looking at trends. For instance, ISAT/PARCC is a minimum proficiency test. Most of our students should be slamming it out of the ballpark. Back in the early 2000s when my 1st child started in the District I believe well over 90% (closer to 98%) of our students were meeting or exceeding (thus the higher rankings). On the 2014 IL School Report card just released, the District average is 90% meeting or achieving. A 5-8% drop may not seem like much, but it is a lot of kids - no matter what the ranking. There is nothing to celebrate here when we have several hundred children not meeting MINIMUM state standards (and several hundred more just meeting them) when that number used to be significantly smaller.

So the question becomes what kids and why. Many of us have been clamoring for cohort data analysis for years. This analysis would look year to year at same groups of kids and exclude move ins and move outs. This kind of analysis would show whether certain kids/grades were slipping while looking at a consistent group.

The other fascinating thing about the IL Report card is that you can break out subgroups and look at them. This is not cohort grouping, but it shows for instance that our IEP kids perform well below the 90% meets/exceeds (expected) but certain other subgroups do as well - one I saw was at certain grade levels the Hispanic group scored well below the 90% meets/exceeds in math. This kind of analysis can also provide valuable input for evaluating what is working and what is not.

Second, as a teacher, I never rely on one data point and while a slip in the rankings is cause for concern, ISAT is one data point. Let's also look at MAP Growth, MAP District average RIT per grade per subject, and whatever other District assessments are taking place - even class median or mean on in-curriculum tests - and look at trends over the years. My gut tells me we have been trending down for a while, but it would take some good data analysis to tease out more than a general trend.

jay_wick said...

Jill -

You can still access the "classic" data set via NIU's portal. The trend / cohort and item analysis is all there.

Honestly there is nothing that leaps out and grabs anybody -- Here is Prospect --
Here is All D181 --

Here is D53 --

Here is Kenilworth D38 --

That said I care less about the results of this particular test or really any standardized test that is supposed to alert of some "below minimum standards" situation. THAT AIN'T WHY I LIVE HERE!

What galls me is the stuff that will NEVER show up on these crummy assessments. Like the FACT that the kids in D38 get FOREIGN LAMGUAGE every day from KINDERGARTEN through 8th grade --
Or that they've actually worked with University of Chicago to improve their SCIENCE Curriculum --

Or that they have a coherent district wide set of standards for technology --

Gosh they must have a HUGE district level staff -- Or maybe people just are expected to perform the job they've been hire for...

Anonymous said...

The D181 2013 ISAT science data has yet to be posted by the district, nor has it been presented. Usually it is presented to the BOE in late August

Extremely Disappointed D181 Dad said...

In "Don's" letter home to parents yesterday, he said the following: "For District 181, we include comprehensive data review as a critical component in the continuous improvement cycle. As we receive new information that can help guide our teaching, we also work to identify practices that are working well in our schools and share them across the District. We additionally hold ourselves accountable for areas needing improvement and identify practices that may not be working. That is the work our Department of Learning, School Leadership Teams, and teaching staff engage in throughout the year. "

What a crock! "Comprehensive data review?" Would someone please point me to the data analysis and report of any kind of comprehensive review Dr. Schneider or Dawn Benaitis have done in the last year? Or that Dr. Schneider and Dr. Russell did the year before that? Or that Dr. Russell did the year before that? Or that Dr. Stutz did the year before that?

Please point me to the comprehensive review.

And while this last point may sound petty Dr. White, I don't want to call you "Don." You are not my chum, my friend, my amigo. You are the superintendent of schools. I prefer to refer to you in a more professional way, because I expect YOU and all of your administrators to BE professional and do their jobs in a "comprehensive" way.

The Parents said...

Well said, 12:19!

Jill Quinones said...

Jay Wick

Actually looking at the D181 cohort link you provided is that not only does overall % of meets/exceeds go down a bit, but exceeds goes down and meets goes up suggesting the top kids aren't performing as well.

This is not actually true cohort data, however, because what I would like to see is the core of students who start in D181 and continue on through the years. For example, if Mary has 20 students in her 3rd grade class and the next year in her 4th grade class it is still 20, but 4 have moved out and their are 4 new students, then the cohort number is now 12 - those who left and those who came in 4th grade would not be included in this analysis - all the way through the years. This would show some good trends - positive and negative. Easy to do with a student ID number sort.

I agree that some of the icing on the cake (foreign language, science, etc.) is sorely lacking in a District like this, but I wouldn't write off the importance of standardized tests for showing trends that reflect back on good curriculum and instruction. It is harder to ice a cake that is crumbling.

Anonymous said...

District 181 is not addressing the needs of our advanced learners. They dismiss them and say they can be addressed in the general ed classroom. When these needs are not met in the general ed classroom - admin blames it on teacher development. Then we go down a costly road of RTI's. The same can be said for our struggling learners with IEPs. The truth is even our best teachers cannot address such a wide range of learners going at one pace in one classroom. As a result, our advanced learners are leaving the district. Without them, our scores - and property values - will continue to decline. There are plenty of pretty places to live. People move here for the schools - plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Dr. White and Dr. Schneider - common core is a baseline minimum set of standards. We are a high achieving district and we expect much much more. Especially for our advanced learners. Do not hold them back in an effort to make everyone the same.

Dr. Schneider - the group that is truly being margenalized is our advanced learners. What about their SELAS and academic needs?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I moved to Hinsdale for the schools. What a joke. The chicago public school I left ranked significantly higher than my home school. Depressing considering the CPS are amongst the worst in the nation.

jay_wick said...

Jill -

Completely agree that our best kids are not doing as well as they should. This is much more apprent in the the better tests that do measure indivual student growth and it should make some parents very upset...

I do not consider science or foreign language or the arts as inessential. Having spoken with you in-person I am confident that you too would consider education without these things incomplete -- the differnce between some pathetic factory baked "mini-desert" sold in a convenience store and a real hand frosted cupcake. Maybe the factory that makes this one-size-makes-no one-happy pathetic excuses needs to be shut down.

It is not so much that I am willing to dismiss the ISATs altogether but that my view of them is shaped by their obviously hackneyed use. Allow a somewhat strained analogy. My house is now filled with a surplus of Halloween candy thanks to unseasonable cold. Each one is labeled with "nutritional info". I further have noticed that what used to be a full sized candy bar has shrunk so that now none of these are over 300 calories. It is not that they are "healthier" they are just smaller, so to has the "magic" of changing cut scores been like an effort to convince us more "fun size" candy bars won't make us fat. Or that somehow touting the "grams of fat" makes us healthier. This is just made up information that does nothing to guide us. If have zero faith in PARCC if they will filled with items that do nothing to really challenge our brightest students...

I agree district staff needs to change. I would suggest not filling our muskets with "salt" from the weak evidence of the ISATs but instead using "lead" like an utter unawareness that the new contract was supposed to allow for additional time for teacher training that would be compatible with existing schedules.