The last school year saw 896 Illinois public schools fail to meet rising No Child Left Behind achievement targets, a 30 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
About 24 percent of public schools in the state landed on the federal failing list, compared with 18 percent last year, the Board of Education reports.
It is the first time since the federal reforms took effect in 2002 that the number of failing schools has increased. The number likely would have been even higher had Illinois education officials not taken advantage of provisions in the federal education reform law that allow states to tinker with math and reading exams, as well as loosening the way passing rates are measured.
One of the changes made by Illinois allows schools to discount the test scores of students not enrolled in that school by May of the previous school year. State officials say that gives schools time to bring new students up to speed.
Had that and other changes not been made, at least another 572 schools would have missed the mark, education officials said Tuesday.
“Any time you have schools that are not (meeting standards), that is a concern to us,” Illinois State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover told the Chicago Tribune. “We are going to look at the results and figure out the best way to work with these schools.”
Schools that receive federal poverty money, but fail to reach the targets, face a series of sanctions that ultimately could lead to state takeover or conversion to a charter school.
Of the 896 state schools that failed to meet the federal rules, 267 of them are in the final stages of the No Child Left Behind sanctions. That means, these schools have failed six years in a row
Under the federal law, these chronically underperforming schools face what is known as “restructuring,” which can mean state takeover, or new management and new staff.
The state will release the complete list of failing schools, as well as individual school test results, Oct. 31.
— Associated Press
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