Report Card Shows Small Changes for Illinois

High School Success | 10/28/2015

Scott McDonald
Regional Digital Strategist

Scott manages digital communications strategy and implementation for Stand Illinois and Oregon.

State Scores Remain Above National Averages

Illinois student scores released earlier today for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) aren’t particularly different than what we’re used to seeing. Reading scores for fourth and eighth grade students in the state reached or stayed at relatively high levels, with both grades staying above the national average. Math scores slipped slightly from the 2013 test but still remained close to historical highs and, like the reading scores, continued to outpace the national average.

The NAEP exam is commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card. It’s a snapshot taken from a representative group of students from across the country, measuring progress at the state and national level. It also tracks demographic shifts in scores, as well as progress at the district level (including Chicago).

While Illinois’ average student scores stayed mostly the same when compared to 2013 scores, a noticeable and stubborn difference remains: the stark achievement gap that continues to beleaguer our state. For example, the gap between white and black fourth graders in the math exam is a staggering 33 points, one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. For eighth graders the gap is only slightly smaller for that exam, at a still noteworthy 29 points, putting Illinois in the middle of the pack nationally.

The achievement gap for the reading exam was not much better, with black students trailing white students by 31 points on the fourth grade test and 29 points on the eighth grade test.

In Chicago, scores saw slight increases for the fourth grade math test, tracking well with the national averages for large city public schools, while the eighth grade math test saw a sharp increase of six points from 2013, beating the national average. Both of those exams, however, are tempered by yawning achievement gaps between black and white students of 41 points for the fourth grade test and 31 points for the eighth grade test.

Chicago fourth graders saw steep gains in the reading test, seeing average scores jump by seven points and tracking near the national average. Eighth graders saw the average score on the reading test jump by four points, meeting the national average. As with the math test, these strong showings are met with a large achievement gap of 45 points on the fourth grade exam and 42 points on the eighth grade exam.

What all these numbers tell us is that we need to continue our work to ensure every child in Illinois – regardless of background – has access to a great public school. By standing together, we can empower parents to demand the best for their kids and ensure all schools have what they need to provide every child with the public education they need and deserve.

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