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CPS Improving

By Margaret Lyons in News on Aug 5, 2004 5:44PM

2004_08_05.pencil.jpgChicago Public School students made major improvements this year, and though they still trail statewide averages according to recent results of Illinois Standards Achievement Test, CPS students are improving more rapidly. Test results improved in 74 percent of Chicago elementary schools, with Latino students improving most dramatically across all grades.

Better scores among Hispanic students -- who make up about 36 percent of Chicago's student body -- drove the increases in reading, math and writing. They improved more than white and black students in those three subjects in third and fifth grades and in eighth-grade writing. The percent of Latino students meeting state standards in fifth-grade math, for example, jumped from 50.6 percent to 65.1 percent.

The city's African-American students also posted solid gains in the three core subjects, but their improvements were far more modest in 5th grade--with reading scores rising 1.3 percentage points, compared with 9.2 percentage points for Latino students.

For the first time since the ISAT began six years ago, a majority of third and fifth graders are meting or exceeding state math standards—56.1 percent of third graders and 50.8 percent of fifth, an improvement of 10.6 and 15.1 percent from two years ago. The only decrease in reading, writing, and math competency for third, fifth, eighth, and eleventh graders was in eighth-grade reading, down .5 percent to 54.6 percent.

Eleventh graders don't take the ISAT, but they do take the Prairie State Achievement Exam. Pamela Dyson, the principal of Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, organized a pep rally in April to get students all psyched up for the standardized test. She must be doing something right: 60 percent of students last year and 73 percent this year met state standards.

Remember, use a no. 2 pencil and make sure to erase all stray marks. Shudder.