School District 304 must spend at least $22,000 to improve students’ math and reading test scores enough to meet the No Child Left Behind Act targets, officials announced Monday.
The Board of Education approved a school improvement plan required by the Illinois State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education because less than 85 percent of students met or exceeded state standards last year, explained Superintendent Kent Mutchler. About 76.3 percent met the standard in reading, while 77.2 percent met the standard in math. White students, the only racial subgroup large enough to be counted separately at the high school, reached 77 percent achievement of state standards in reading and 78 percent in math.
Officials said Geneva High School failed to meet the standards this year because the benchmark was set too high. The school has met the NLCB benchmark every year since the program began, including last year’s benchmark of 77.5 percent, according to the school improvement plan report.
“Only a handful of schools in the state actually made the benchmark this year, and even fewer will make it next year when it goes to 92.5 percent,” said board member Mary Stith. “It’s not realistic to think we’re going to make 92.5 percent this year. I hope the legislature makes some amendments to the NLRB standards.”
The increase in the number of English-as-a-second-language and low-income students attending the high school also contributed to the failure to meet NCLB standards, said board member Mark Grosso. Since 2008, the percentage of Hispanic and low-income students has doubled, from 2.9 percent to 5.9 percent for Hispanics and from 2.6 percent to 5.2 percent for low-income students. Just under 57 percent of Hispanic students met state standards last year, while 44.4 percent of low-income students met the standards.
“The students in these subgroups have to take the same tests as everyone else, even though they often don’t have the same level of comprehension because of the language barrier,” Grosso noted.
The district has committed to spending about $21,000 on extra reading instruction for students who did not meet state standards, including a $14,500 reading lab for special education students. The plan also calls for a new math tutoring program at a cost of about $2,000, and for $960 in teacher training.
“It’s not a significant amount of money (compared to the district’s $78 million budget), but we will have to spend it on this instead of in other areas,” said board member Bill Wilson.