Mannheim scores up, but not enough
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:24AM
Students in Mannheim District 83 improved their scores on a state test a lot — but not enough to meet federal standards.
“They are showing improvement but it’s not at the pace established” by the federal No Child Left Behind education reform law, said Brian Knox, curriculum director for the district.
This year, federal standards require 85 percent of students to meet or exceed standards in reading and math in the Illinois Standard Achievement Test. By 2014, the law requires 100 percent of students meet or exceed standards.
Overall, 80 percent of students met or exceeded standards this year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education website.
That’s an upward trend since 2002, when only 55 percent of students met or exceeded standards.
Knox said students in third, fourth, and fifth grades at all three elementary schools — Roy, Scott and Westdale — have consistently improved their scores.
Between sixth and seventh grade, scores dipped by 3 to 4 percent.
“That’s something we’re working on,” Knox said.
In reading, all three elementary schools saw overall scores increase. Students at Roy, for example, have seen a 16 percent increase in reading scores during the last four years.
While most of the subgroups maintained or improved their scores, an exception was special education students.
“They can achieve those targets but it can take longer and require more effort,” Knox said.
In math, special education students did better. Scores by white and Hispanic students at Mannheim Middle School were similar.
District 83 has seen its percentage of students from low-income families almost triple in the last decade — from 24.9 percent in 2002 to 72.3 percent this year. Students from those families are at greater risk of scoring low on standardized tests, particularly in reading.
The district uses federal funds to offer extra reading support, have teachers look at student data and plan extra help and have instituted the Read 182 program to improve literacy.
While many educators have criticized aspects of No Child Left Behind, Knox said it has benefited many schools by requiring more detailed information on student achievement.
“And having sanctions, it forces you to look at what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing well,” Knox said.
At Mannheim Middle School, that’s meant redesigning how services are supplied to special education students, particularly keeping special education students in general education classes.
At the elementary schools, it has meant focusing more on students for whom English is a second language.