Check the Chicago Tribune today…school reports are OUT!!! The news is many quarters is not good. There is some good news, but the worse news of all may be that only 19% of Black children passed the 11th grade math examination. There is no way to dress that up. The next time we are inundated with stories about the great educational successes coming out of Chicago, I will be sure to pose the question about this 81% failure rate. When a system fails four-fifths of its participants, one cannot say that system works. The system, in this case, is not merely the school system – after all school’s don’t exist in a vacuum. Schools are part of the political fabric of communities, cities and states. Schools drive public expenditure budgets and property taxation rates. Schools are determinants in the attractiveness of neighborhoods for young families and new businesses. So, when a school fails, it is not merely that children failed to post a particular score on an exam. It is an indication of a community in crisis.
2007 Illinois school report card
The Chicago Tribune’s Illinois school report card site will let you easily search for any public school in the state and get detailed information like the school’s demographic profile, passing rates on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, the Prairie State Achievement Exam, the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English exam and the Illinois Alternate Assessment exam, as well as average ACT scores. ISAT and PSAE passing rates are also broken down by race and income status. Plus, see how your school’s passing rates rank against other schools in the district, county and state.
Excerpt from the Tribune’s story:
“Girls in Illinois grade schools outperformed boys on every state achievement exam last school year, according to a Tribune analysis, a twist in performance that has perplexed state officials and educators across the state.
Historically, girls have scored higher than boys in reading and writing, while boys did better on the science and some of the math exams.
But while Illinois’ boys showed modest increases in most subjects and grades in recent years, girls have progressed much more rapidly, according to the 2007 Illinois State Report Card data made public Wednesday.”
Now, even with all of the classroom and testing success enjoyed by girls, this has not continued through the high school grades. In fact, boys continue to outperform girls in math and science at the high school level. I have maintained that people who are proficient at math and science will control their material world and create jobs and set pay scales for people are lack that proficiency. A solid majority of those 81% of students who received failing scores can rest assured that their capacity to feed themselves and their families will rest on luck and the good will of their classmates. They should be told, as soon as possible, that goodwill is finite – but free resources to build their knowledge in critical areas are nearly infinite.
Students who graduate high school without the capacity to compute and understand this world in mathematical and scientific terms are at a significant disadvantage. Today, I was told about Equity Assistance Centers (EAC’s). EAC’s are federally-funded abundantly resourced educational centers framed to support the work of districts and schools around issues of equity. There are 10 centers around the nation. The Center which supports Illinois and the city of Chicago is located four hours to the east in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the University of Michigan. The posting of the academic achievement data in the Chicago Tribune should have initiated a four-alarm fire sequence at the EAC in Ann Arbor.
The EAC currently runs workshops on Math and Science for families and children (lower grades) in Michigan and Wisconsin. There is no doubt that cities like Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Milwaukee have tremendous needs. Add Chicago to that mix. Add Gary, Indiana to that mix. Moreover, it may time for the folks at the EAC to consider some innovative ways to get high school students focused on math and science. The scope of their activities cannot be restricted to the elementary and middle school grades. Of course, if you’re a parent in far away Chicago, you may have to wait awhile. It seems that many of the online publications of the Michigan-based EAC were written well over ten years ago – and none deal with approaches to improve academic achievement in mathematics.