Are D-15 Students on Track for College? – Part II

Past eighth grade EXPLORE scores reveal more than 40 percent not fully prepared.

As I wrote in , Community Consolidated School District 15 eighth graders – the Class of 2015 - will be taking their ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exams this Saturday. 

If history repeats itself, more than a third of them will find out in a few weeks that they are not on track for college. 

School administrators have known for several years now that it is the EXPLORE test – not the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) – that is a more reliable predictor of a student's college readiness. 

A key finding from the 2008 study, From High School to the Future:  The Pathway to 20  explains the relationship between a student's composite score on the EXPLORE test and their likelihood of reaching a 20 or better on the ACT college readiness exam.  It states that virtually no students with very low scores (15 and below) on EXPLORE make it to a 20 on the ACT. Only about 30 percent of those who score a 16 fair well on the ACT.

The report indicates that a composite score of 17 is the "tipping point" where students have a greater than 50 percent chance of reaching ACT benchmarks. With very high EXPLORE scores (19 and above), virtually all students make it to benchmarks or above on the ACT.

For the past three years, more than 42 percent of District 15 students have consistently scored a 16 or less on their eighth grade EXPLORE exam. Of those, approximately 30 percent had very low scores of 15 and below.

Which Township High School District 211 schools – Fremd or Palatine – did these students enter their freshmen year? How many of them were not on the path to college when they graduated from District 15?

Data from the EXPLORE test taken by the Classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014 was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  These students represent current juniors, sophomores and freshmen at Fremd and Palatine High Schools. They would have taken their EXPLORE test during the winter of eighth grade.

Results for the Class of 2014 show that 221 students, or about 37.4 percent of District 15 students headed to Palatine High School scored 15 0r less. Fremd had 147 students, or about 22.7 percent of incoming freshman who had scored 15 or less.

As eighth graders, more than 92 percent scored in the "Meets or Exceeds" category for both Reading and math on the ISATs. However as recent studies have shown, only by scoring well into the "Exceeds" category of the ISATs can a student have a reasonable chance of achieving the ACT benchmarks.

For the Class of 2014, only 280 students, about 21.2 percent, made it into the "Exceeds" category for Reading while 620 students, about 46.2 percent, did for math.

Overall, the EXPLORE data shows that for every District 15 student who scores a 19 or better, there are two who do not – and one has a lot of "catching up" to do in a short period of time.

What can District 15 do to improve student outcomes on the EXPLORE test? 
Can struggling students be identified early in elementary school? Should "Strengthening the Curriculum" be a priority for our school district?

The Classes of 2016 and beyond are waiting for the answers.

Next week:  Part III - How D211 is helping students get ready

Louise December 01, 2010 at 06:06 PM
For a person to be successful as a 21st century working adult, the caliber of elementary and high school education must prepare students as if they will attend college without remediation. Anything short of that and we are undermining all of our future.
mary vanek December 02, 2010 at 03:30 AM
This is what happens when the State lowers the standards for the ISAT test and lulls people into a false sense of accomplishment. "World Class" education! ha!
celtic citizen December 03, 2010 at 05:51 PM
So then move if it you think it is that bad, mary vanek- or enroll your child(ren) in a gifted academy or a school who can pick its students based on how smart they are and how well they perform (assuming you have children in d15 or d211 schools). Your smug cynicism is tiring and counter-productive.
Thunderchief68 December 03, 2010 at 09:23 PM
Celtic Citizen - Not quite sure I understand your comments about Mary Vanek's observation. The facts are we have dumbed down our curriculum, lowered our stardards for what for Meeting or Exceeding Standards on the ISAT, lowered the complexity of our Jr High History Text books to Grade 7 levels and then we are supposed to cheer when 90% of our students meet or exceed standards? Not only that, Illinois standards are some of worst in the country and that's the judgement of the AFT, hardly and anti-education assocation, as well as a number of other independent studies. Ms. Mondy's piece is "data driven", a term that educators and methodology are so fond of using. Ms. Vanek only summarizes and points out that the public is being mislead about the quality of education that is being offered, a fact I happen to agree with based on my independent research. If you disagree both Mondy, Vanek and me, it would be great deal more constructive to present evidence to the contrary.
celtic citizen December 03, 2010 at 10:58 PM
Dear Crap, This is not "Babs". Thunderchief, The obvious bias that Ms. Mondy (and CLEARLY mary vanek) have against the D15 prompted my comment. No school district in Illinois is satisfied with the state standards, but the public schools are held accountable to and measured against them. D15 continually works to have an increasing number of students score in the "exceeds" category on the ISAT (remember the state target keeps moving up several % points every year) and articulates with its feeder high schools to diminish that gap between 8th and 9th grades. The state of Illinois is moving towards what is called the (national) Common Core Standards because the state recognizes that increased rigor is necessary in the area of Language Arts and content must be presented in a different sequence and in greater depth in mathematics. To better inform yourself about what Illinois is doing, look here- http://www.isbe.state.il.us/news/2010/june24.htm The Common Core Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. There is no assessment designed yet, and the Common Core Standards are not slated to be in place until 2014. For more information about the Common Core Standards, look here: http://www.corestandards.org/ I am a believer in always improving. I do not believe in working against our excellent school district in such an antagonistic manner.
Bruno Behrend December 04, 2010 at 02:13 AM
Celtic Citizen is clearly a defender of the status quo, and engaged in the task of preserving an education system that is neither salvageable nor deserving of salvation. While suburban school appear "good" in comparison to the urban drop out factories across the nation, they accomplish their relative superiority at too great an expense. The bond deals and insider contracts ought to be enough to show the average citizen that the "district," as an entity is an artifice designed to create the appearance of local control. While the "Common Core" standards are superior to Illinois porous and gamed ISAT scheme, the fact remains that public education in the US, and in Illinois in particular, is a closed monopoly designed to employ and overcompensate an increasingly large number of public employees, bond dealers, building contractors, and other financial interests. All schools need to become "neighborhood schools," not "government-education complex" schools. This is done by making each school an independent of the district scheme. District should be dismantled, and the education portion of your property tax bill should be phased out entirely. Equal funding for every child should come from the state, and that funding should follow the child to a far more dynamic and competitive basket of content providers. There is no reforming this system. Keep antagonizing until it is dismantled.
Thunderchief68 December 04, 2010 at 02:54 PM
It would seem that you are missing the points made by Mondy and summarized by succinctly Vanek. They are not biased against the school only the product it is producing and those who believe it is just fine. The data show that far too many children are leaving our system without the requisite skills to reach their potential as they move on to higher levels of education. To point that out in a forthright manner is not bias. I have yet to see an argument that proves them incorrect. I have yet to be proved incorrect that our curriculum is inferior to that of the recent past and that we have, to use an over worked characterization, "dumded it down." To argue that we have excellent schools is to accept the fact we are satisfied with clearing a bar or metric that is set far too low. I am very familiar with the move to Common Core and my research and reading of the literature tells me that it is not the panacea for what ails our schools. To be sure for some states, maybe even Illinois, it will be a move in the right direction for others who are forced to adopt them it will be a step in the wrong direction. We don't and shouldn't have to wait for the state to tell us what actions to take to improve the quality of our schools. To wait until 2014 is to continue to sentence many of our children currently in the system to an inferior education. To paraphrase a famous line from the space program, "the status quo is not an option."


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