No Grade Level Proficiency in Math or Reading at Dozens of Illinois Schools: Report

No Grade Level Proficiency in Math or Reading at Dozens of Illinois Schools: Report
A file photo of an empty classroom at a high school. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

According to data from the Illinois State Board of Education, not a single student in 53 schools in Illinois can do math at grade level, and in 30 schools, not a single student can read at grade level.

These schools, located throughout the state, are under the purview of the Illinois Public School system and many are rated “commendable” by the state, according to a Wirepoints report.

The report noted the example of Spry Community Links High School, in the Heart of Little Village in Chicago, where, according to state Board of Education data, not a single one of the school’s 87 students can read at grade level, nor are any proficient in math, Wirepoints stated in its report.

The Wirepoints report argued that this failure to teach basic skills in so many schools is a damning indictment of the state’s educational system, despite many of these schools being rated “commendable” by the state.

The data reveals an alarming trend of poor student achievement and a lack of accountability in the Illinois educational system.

The Wirepoints report only focused on the schools where zero students could read or do math at grade level. However, the report noted that the figure jumps to 622 schools when the dataset is adjusted to look at schools where at least 1 out of 10 students is proficient at reading—or 18 percent of the state’s 3,547 schools in 2022.

That figure jumps to more than a quarter of all schools in the state—930 schools—if looking at the 1 out of 10 students who can do math at grade level, according to Wirepoints.

Scores Low Before Pandemic: Report

Foreshadowing potential arguments blaming the pandemic for the low scores, the Wirepoints report noted that scores for some of the schools were low beforehand.

In 2019, before the pandemic, the reading and math scores were only slightly better at Spry, for example, where only two of the school’s 127 students could read at grade level before the pandemic, and zero students were proficient in math, according to the report.

The failure to teach basic skills cannot be blamed on a lack of funding either, the report noted, as data from the Illinois State Board of Education shows that the average spending at Spry was $20,000 per student before the pandemic, and it currently stands at $35,600.

Many schools that have a zero percent proficiency rating in reading and math, such as Sandoval Sr High School and Ralph Ellison Chicago International Charter School, are still rated as “commendable” by the state. This rating is the second-highest of the four “accountability” ratings a school can receive.

Responding to the data, Illinois state Sen. Willie Preston, a Democrat, said that parents need to be reengaged in their childrens’ education.

“Government isn’t the anthem for all things,” Preston told Fox and Friends. “I think that we have to reengage parents, have parents actively take a role inside the schools when they can be, but in addition, we need to make certain that we … spend our money in the right way as it pertains to our children’s education.”

Preston cited the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the low scores.

“I believe this is something that is a byproduct of some of our policies that we were taking during COVID,” Preston said. “This is a very serious issue and one that as a father and as a lawmaker, I’m going to be addressing feverishly.”

Chicago Public Schools Response

In a statement obtained by Fox News, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) said that their 2022 academic scores were in line with other large urban districts, and should be seen as a reflection of pandemic-related challenges rather than the talent and potential of their students and staff.

“We expect a strong recovery this year and next and are hopeful these gains will be reflected in our internal assessments, grades and classroom engagement, as well as State assessments,” the CPS statement reads.

Regarding the Wirepoints report, CPS pointed out that most of the schools listed are “Options Schools,” which cater to some of the district’s most vulnerable students, including those who have reenrolled after dropping out.

“Options Schools serve some of our most vulnerable students who face higher rates of challenges related to special education, housing instability, involvement in the justice system, and victimization,” the statement adds. “The combination of these challenges lead to higher rates of mobility, transiency, chronic absenteeism, and disengagement from school for extended periods of time.”

CPS noted that it remained optimistic about the progress they expect all students to make during the current school year.

The Illinois State Board of Education said in a statement that it remains committed to ensuring that all students in Illinois have access to high-quality educational opportunities, and also to students who are struggling receive the support they need to improve.

“We acknowledge that there is still work to do, and we will continue to work with educators, families, and communities to strengthen Illinois’ public education system,” the statement reads.

The Epoch Times contacted CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education for further comment.

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