Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
Advance Illinois, an independent organization comprised of education experts from across Illinois, recently released its first report card on the state of education in Illinois which contained many low marks.
The report is the first full assessment of Illinois’ educational performance from birth through higher education and can be found at their web site www.advanceillinois.org. It compares Illinois’ performance to other states, outlines what it means to be ready for transition from elementary to secondary to higher education, and helps us clearly understand the results we are getting.
Early childhood education was graded incomplete even though considerable resources have been invested in recent years and Illinois is a leader in early childhood efforts. The report found that the state has yet to find a way to measure whether our children are prepared for kindergarten and whether early childhood education alters over time the success of at-risk children.
In K-12 education, Illinois received an overall grade of a ‘D’. Evaluation was based upon National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading proficiency tests, along with ACT college preparedness, as well as high school graduation rates. The report stated learning conditions which have proven to be leading indicators of student success are generally not measured in Illinois. It concluded that too few students leave the K-12 system ready for college or career.
For post-secondary education, Illinois received an overall grade of a ‘C’. Four-year public graduation rates, associates degree attainment, as well as the percentage of family income needed to pay for college all contributed to the overall grade. See the following story about higher education accountability.
As we continue to look to reforming and improving state government, discussions must include education. We need to focus on the key drivers of student success, the outcomes we expect students to learn and better ways to assess student readiness for their career and life.
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