Schools reflect on state test scores - Republic-Times | News

Schools reflect on state test scores

By on November 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

After years of taking the state-funded ACT as a college entrance exam, Illinois schools experimented with the SAT for the first time last school year. The results of the test recently became public for schools in Monroe County and show varying results.

For the most recent results, the Columbia School District touts an improved average composite score on the PARCC. Fifty-seven percent of students met or exceeded expectations compared to 55 percent of students for the 2015-16 school year.

According to Columbia school assistant superintendent Dr. Beth Horner, professional learning standards and teachers of different grade levels working together has helped improve results. 

“It is difficult to pinpoint a specific item that caused this increase as there are so many variables that go into testing,” Horner said. “However, I can say that our teachers continue to diligently work to refine the implementation of the Illinois Learning Standards. 

“We continue to analyze our ‘pathways’ that we offer to our students. We are proud of our scores as it indicates a collaborative effort from our teachers, students and parents.”

Additionally, Columbia High School juniors who took the SAT scored higher than the state average with 50 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations. The school also scored 1,072 out of a possible 1,600.

In order to familiarize students with the SAT, Horner said teachers took a practice SAT and provided SAT prep work to students. She said the school will continue to look at test results to understand what needs improvement.

“We are proud that our SAT scores are higher than the state average, but we can never become complacent. We need to continue to set the bar high,” she said.

Valmeyer School District produced identical results for the last school year as with the 2015-16 school year on the PARCC, with 36 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations. Valmeyer High School students performed above the state average on the SAT.

While 44 percent of Valmeyer students met or exceeded expectations on the SAT, the state’s average composite score came out to 40 percent. The school also achieved an overall score of 1,044.

Valmeyer school superintendent Eric Frankford noted that, although the school performed better than the state on the SAT,  teachers are unfamiliar with the material as opposed to the ACT.

“The state has transitioned from mandating the ACT, an assessment that we were very familiar with, to the SAT, which is a relatively new assessment for our staff and students. We will continue to review the assessment data and use that information to determine future needs in our curriculum and instruction,” he said.

Frankford added that students are already performing at a level needed to excel in college, regardless of what the test results show.

“Valmeyer students continued the trend of scoring above the state average on mandated college entrance exams. (Seventy-three) percent of our seniors are enrolled in at least one course that will earn college credit,” he said.

For the Waterloo School District, 60 percent of students met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC while 54 percent did so the prior year. Waterloo School District Curriculum Coordinator John Schmieg said data given for what students need to improve has helped realize higher scores.

“The teachers are more dialed in to the standards. Over the past five years, we’ve been trying different things,” he said. “And the PARCC gives a lot of data on what students need to improve.”

Additionally, Schmieg noted that the district was able to have students take the PARCC on paper rather than online. He said they will continue to do that until the state requires every district to go paperless.

“We want to put our best foot forward. We’re still saying that paper is the best for our kids and we’re asking the state if we can continue to do paper,” he said.

On the SAT, 55 percent of students met or exceeded expectations and the school received a score of 1,084. Schmieg said the district cannot say after only a year whether the SAT serves as an effective tool for college readiness.

“The students did better than the state and we’re happy about that but we’re already looking at the results and making adjustments for next year,” he added.

Go to to see how each school in the county ranks compared to the state on test scores and other measures.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.