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One test at a time

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Dist. 117 pleased with state test results but isn’t resting on its laurels

  Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills is jump-page-2-col-reichOak Ridge Principal Beth Reich was pleased with recent test results but is looking for bigger gains. Photo by Jeff Vorva.taking it one test at a time.

  Principal Beth Reich is pleased with her school’s results on the recently released Illinois Standards Achievement Test, but she’s focused on the progress her students will make this year.
  The Illinois Standards Achievement Test measures student achievement in reading and math in grades three through eight and science in grades four and seven.
  Nearly 79 percent of the 630 students at Oak Ridge met or exceeded the state’s expectations—a figure that was much in higher in previous years before that state raised expectations for the test.
  Students at Glen Oaks Elementary School in Hickory Hills also did well with 77.9 percent meeting or achieving state standards. At Conrady Middle School, 75 percent of student met or exceeded standards.
  The results are from tests given in March. Starting next year, students will be given a new standardized test which will determine whether they are meeting new expectations based on Common Core state standards.
  Many school districts throughout the southwest suburbs did not perform as well as in previous years, leaving some administrators disappointed.
  Reich, however, prefers to look forward and discuss the tools the school, 103rd Street and 88th Avenue, has at its disposal to help improve student performance.
  “We have programs in place for any child who needs them,” Reich said. “We feel that it’s important to the child.”
  Those programs include an after-school tutoring program that serves more than 100 students as well as four reading specialists on staff who work with small groups of children who require additional support, Reich said.
  But the school can’t intervene without knowing which students need help and that’s where data analysis comes into play.front-color-3-col-studentsThird graders in Christine Durco’s class raise their hands in joy as Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills scored well on a state achievement test.  Photo by Jeff Vorva.

 



  “We have a lot of data,” Reich said. “We believe that’s the foundation.”
  Reich, in her third year as principal at Glen Oaks, said students know what’s at stake and work with their teachers to set performance goals.
  “We have the kids in on this,” she said. “The kids are happy to achieve goals. It’s mostly their hard work.”
  Seventy-seven percent of the students in North Palos School District 117 met or exceeded state standards. That figure would have been in the 90th percentile under the previous testing standards, Reich said.
  However, the score is the highest of the seven elementary school districts in the The Reporter’s coverage area.
  District 117 Supt. Jeannie Stachowiak credited the significant amount of teamwork in the district for success on the test. She said the district’s three assistant superintendents are routinely in the schools “really listening to the teachers need.”
  “I think we’re going to see a lot of growth this year,” she said.
    “It’s just a new reality,” Reich said of the new state standards. “We’re always looking to be better.”