Many school districts falling behind in PARCC test scores

    CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill. (WCIA) -- Many schools in the area are falling behind when it comes to PARCC testing.

The statewide standardized test started in 2015. Report cards show a majority of large districts in Central Illinois are well below the state average.

There's been a fair amount of pushback since kids started taking this test. It's evolved over the past few years because of that backlash.

Educators say it still needs work in order to actually help those 3rd through 8th graders.

"You can pull any districts report card, and you can look at some pretty scary scores, which might deter you from that particular community."

Several school districts in Central Illinois have some fairly frightening PARCC test results.

Take Decatur Public Schools -- they show 11 percent passing. The state average? 34 percent.

Elementary Curriculum Director Charlotte Thompson says that doesn't mean you should worry.

"The PARCC test is one data point for a district, it's not the end all be all, and shouldn't be the end all be all, for what a district is capable of doing in terms of performance."

But the problem is, it does make families worry. Realtor Matt Difanis says people will land in his office already set on living in one area because of test scores like this.

"That's a huge impact, for someone to be starting out right out of the gate saying I'm going to make a huge life and lifestyle decision, my housing, solely on the basis of a metric on a report card for one particular school district or one particular school."

Difanis says Mahomet-Seymour schools is one of those districts. They're above the average, at 52 percent passing.

Instruction Director Nicole Rummel says what the results tell them can vary.

"Sometimes a lot, sometimes not a lot lot, it's one piece of the puzzle for us."

A puzzle that can take a while to solve.

"One of the big problems is that results don't come back in time to really guide instruction for that group of kids."

Almost like waiting on the doctor..

"You're waiting for the test to come back, and you wait and you wait and you wait, you don't really know what the results of that test are."

In their case -- they're just getting their science results from two years ago.

She says at that point, the data is useless.

"It's a little too late, we need to be able to make instructional decisions in a timely fashion."

They say because of the delay, they use other measures to plan instruction -- so PARCC testing doesn't drive daily planning.

School districts say they use it to see if they're on track with their core curriculum.

We asked the state superintendent about PARCC testing during a conference call last week.

He told us they believe the more they do this, the more the results will improve. He added that the PARCC assessment is essential, and is not going away.

Champaign, Danville, Urbana, Mattoon, Charleston and Effingham all fell below the 34 percent state average.

Mount Zion was above the average at 46 percent passing.
 


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