Illinois Data Shows Many Graduates Aren’t College-Ready


According to the most recent education data for the state of Illinois, released as part of the annual Illinois Report Card, many high school students in the state are graduating despite being unprepared to attend college.

The data, coming from the State Board of Education, assesses the 666 high schools in the state that report ACT scores.  Of those schools, 482 had over half of participants scoring under a 21, the national average for the exam.  The top score is a 36.  The state uses the scores to determine if students are ready to attend college.

This year, only 24.9% of public school students in the state scored high enough on the ACT to be considered college-ready.  Last year that could be said of 24.1% of students.  Only 26 high schools in the state had at least half of their graduates receive college-ready scores on the exam.

The Illinois Report Card offers an in-depth view of public schools in the state and includes data on exam scores, school finance and socioeconomics.  The most recent version did not include scores for students in the third through eighth grade, or for high school students who had participated in new exams last spring that were based on Common Core standards adopted in 2010.

The results from the new exam are taking longer to score, claims PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin.  He said parents and taxpayers may have to wait until the end of November or early December before seeing results, writes Diane Rado for The Chicago Tribune.

The average ACT score for public students in the state this year was 20.5.  Chicago Public Schools’ Northside College Prep held the highest average score in the state at 29.6, while Walter Payton College Prep came in a close second with 29.4.

Schools in areas of high poverty saw the lowest scores, with some reporting less than 5% of students as being prepared for college.  Schools with selective enrollment saw higher scores than the majority of the open enrollment schools in the state.

Meanwhile, two high schools made considerable gains in the number of students who graduate on time, or within four years.  Both Round Lake High School and New Tech High in Zion reported an increase of 10% since 2014, bringing Round Lake to 82.1% of students graduating in four years and New Tech to 72%.

Principal Donn Mendoza, who is also the assistant superintendent of secondary education for District 116, said a number of changes have been made throughout the district in an effort to bring needed help to students earlier, allowing them to stay on track, reports Lauren Zumbach for The Chicago Tribune.

“Additional counselors … at the high school have allowed us to increase our ability to monitor individual students, ultimately leading to proactive intervention earlier and more frequently,” Mendoza said.

In addition, the district hired a teacher to help students in their efforts to recover credits, and built a tutoring center where students can come throughout the school day for extra help.