PARCC Results Released

Butler District 53 students fared well on the second year of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exams. Of 18 school districts that are similar in demographics and achievement in the Chicago region, Butler scored No. 2 in the state of Illinois with 80.1 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards on the PARCC. That percentage – or proficiency score – reflects all students grade 3-8 and both subject areas of English Language Arts and math. The Chicago Tribune analysis noted that fewer than 30 schools in Illinois – both public and magnet schools – boasted scores of over 80 percent. Brook Forest and Butler Junior High were two of them. Analyzing Butler’s results by subject area, 79 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in math. An additional 16 percent “approached standards” in math, according to the School Report Card. In English Language Arts, 80 percent of students met or exceeded standards. An additional 15 percent “approached standards.” The results are remarkable, given that Butler District 53 students already achieve at the highest levels, said Superintendent Dr. Heidi Wennstrom. Moving higher is always difficult for top achieving schools. But Butler District 53 students did just that. Last year’s results showed that 78 percent of students met or exceeded standards. This year, 80.1 percent met/exceeded standards. Also notable is that more students overall exceeded expectations – 23 percent in 2015 to 26 percent this year. “The significant factor for us is that we have minimal kids at risk of not acquiring the skills to effectively meet the Common Core Standards,” said Wennstrom. The data gives us an opportunity to assess where we are with each of our students, she said. She also noted the high achieving and nurturing atmosphere in the District. “Students come ready to learn, parents are committed to their child’s education, our teachers are extraordinary and our administration and Board are committed to continuous improvement.” Dr. Wennstrom also attributed high levels of learning to extraordinary teachers who are committed to continuously improving their craft. “I’m so proud of our teachers. They continue to grow and learn and to adapt their teaching strategies. They work in teams to refine their skills to ensure that each child experiences success.” Still, she said there is always room for improvement on the test scores. “This is just one piece of data and we are examining the results in order to help all of our students achieve their personal best.” The PARCC assessment, administered for the second time, tested students in grades 3-8 in math and English language arts. Results place student scores in five bands: Level 1 – did not yet meet expectations; Level 2 – partially met expectations; Level 3 – approached expectations; Level 4 – met expectations; Level 5: exceeded expectations. Students who earned Level 4 or 5 were considered prepared for the next grade level and on track for college and careers. The PARCC test replaced the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), requiring children to demonstrate more complex knowledge. Butler District 53 scores, both PARCC and ISAT, have consistently ranked among the top three in the state in the last 10 years. The PARCC proficiency scores are lower than ISAT scores for schools across the state due to the complexity of knowledge students are required to demonstrate. Butler District 53 typically recorded ISAT composite scores in the mid to high 90’s. PARCC tests reflect new Common Core State Standards, which schools are continuing to fold into the curriculum, a move to computerized tests, which can be difficult for the youngest students, and more challenging content, reflecting problem solving and higher thinking skills.