D91's dismal test scores

Opinion: Editorials

November 5th, 2019 2:09 PM

By Editorial

Standardized school test scores are suspect. Always have been. And with Illinois perpetually remaking the test from scratch, it makes year-over-year comparables nearly impossible. 

That said, standardized test scores are what we have to work with and can't forever be ignored or dismissed. In some school districts, test scores gradually rise or, at least, remain static. 

However, in Forest Park's District 91 public elementary schools the test scores are bad and, largely, getting worse. The new scores were posted last week by the state. Due to a glitch in the system, so far, we have a fair look at only three of Forest Park's five schools. Those are the Middle School, Field-Stevenson and Grant-White.

Not much good to see here. Both the middle school and Field-Stevenson are labeled as "underperforming." Aside from a nice bump in math scores at Field-Stevenson, the test scores are dismal.

At next week's school board meeting, Supt. Louis Cavallo is expected to offer his readout on the scores. It is going to take some spinning and/or a complacent school board for these results not to ring a bell of alarm. We will wait to hear what he has to say.

Our elementary schools have so many advantages. Taxpayers have been generous and D91 plows a lot of money into classrooms. Declining enrollment has resulted in many of our classrooms having exceptionally positive teacher-to-student ratios. The district has been aggressive in adopting new curriculum and in paying for professional development for faculty. 

We're not statisticians, so maybe the troublingly low enrollment results in more volatile test results since the sample is so small in some grades.

But looking at these scores over many years, one can only conclude that what is being tried is not working. It is time for the school board and the administration to re-examine its plan.

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