Schools on course with Ill. Learning Standards


May 4, 2000
(217) 782-4648 or (312) 814-3490


Springfield – Illinois students and schools are “on course” in meeting and exceeding Illinois Learning Standards, State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee reported today.

Speaking at the Illinois Association of School Administrators’ annual conference, McGee noted that the overall percent of students meeting and exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards is higher this year than last.

Students also improved in several key areas on this year’s administration of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). The ISAT, which measures students’ progress in meeting the Standards, was given for the second time in February. The Standards comprise the most important skills and knowledge that students need to succeed in life.

“I am very proud of the tremendous work our educators and students did last year to continue to implementing and meeting the Illinois Learning Standards,” McGee said.

“I am especially encouraged because the results show that the Standards are starting to take hold in our classrooms. Standards are the right path for education and we’re right on course. We are one year closer to Illinois education and students being second to none.”

The second-year test results mirror those in other states with standards-led education systems.

Third, fifth and eighth grade students took the ISAT in reading, writing and math for the second year. The ISAT was administered for the first time to fourth and seventh graders in science and social science.

The science and social science scores will be released later this summer, after performance levels (“exceeds,” “meets,” “below”, and “academic warning’) are established by committees of Illinois teachers.

In particular, McGee noted the improvement in eighth-grade writing and math scores.

Seventy percent of eighth graders met or exceeded the writing Standards in 2000, up 11 percentage points from the first ISAT administration last year. Similarly, the percent of eighth graders meeting or exceeding math Standards is up by four percentage points over 1999 (47 percent compared to 43 percent.) Eighth-grade reading scores held steady.

Conversely, fifth-grade writing and reading scores dropped, and math scores improved only marginally.

Only 71 percent of fifth grade students met or exceeded writing Standards this year, compared to 75 percent in 1999. Fifty-nine percent of fifth graders met or exceeded reading standards, down two percentage points from a year ago. And 57 percent of fifth graders met or exceeded math Standards, compared to 56 percent last year.

“The fifth-grade scores are something of a concern,” McGee said. “We are going to work with local districts to see what might be behind what I believe is a temporary drop-off, and see what we can do to help those students do better.”

Third-grade scores were basically stable. Sixty-two percent of third graders met or exceeded Learning Standards in reading, up one percentage point from last year; 69 percent met or exceeded Standards in math, versus 68 percent last year; and 55 percent met or exceeded writing Standards, down one percentage point from 1999.

Though the third-grade scores showed little change, McGee said they show the need for early intervention programs, particularly in reading and math.

“Getting the scores we want will require programs to help our youngest learners get a better grasp on these essential skills,” McGee said in noting that the State Board’s Fiscal Year 2001 budget for early education funding increased by $10 million, to $180 million.