Test scores are not on track to meet Elgin-based School District U-46’s goals for reading and math proficiency in all grade levels, known as Destination 2015, according to a report presented to the School Board this week.
“We only have three years to go here, and we have a big gap to cover,” school board member Dale Spencer said.
Administrators presented the report Monday night, updating the district’s progress in improving reading and math standards for first-, third-, sixth- and eighth-grade pupils. Standardized test scores were used to compile statistics in the report.
The Destination 2015 initiative introduced by Supt. Jose Torres and approved by the board in late 2010 sets up goals for students at all grade levels to be met by the year 2015, addressing reading level, college readiness, the drop-out rate and other benchmarks.
The data showed some improvement last school year, compared with the previous year and since the 2007-08 school year — when Torres first came to the district. Other areas showed either no progress, a regression or marginal improvement.
Additionally, all areas detailed in Monday’s report would require significant improvement — from 11 to more than 30 percent in some categories — to meet the goals by 2015. The areas detailed were first-grade reading level, and high school or college readiness for third-, sixth- and eighth-graders in reading and math.
Data for first-grade reading level showed 75 percent of pupils read at grade level last school year. That is an increase from 66 percent in 2010-11 and 50 percent in 2007-08.
But, the plan calls for 98 percent of first-graders to read at or above reading level by 2015. Board members noted how much must be gained in the next three years to meet that and other goals.
The percentage of third-graders on target to be ready for high school math is dropping. The report showed 60 percent of students last school year met this criteria. That compares with 63 percent the previous year and 62 percent in 2007-08. The Destination 2015 goal for that standard is 94 percent.
“I’m expressing my sense of extreme urgency,” said board member Traci O’Neal Ellis, using an analogy of administrators trying to improve fire safety. “While we’re figuring out how to make the building fire-safe … our students are on fire,” she said. “Who is turning the hose on in the meantime?”
Laura Hill, director of assessment and accountability, and Jennifer McDonnell, director of instruction, explained several initiatives to help students, teachers and administrators reach the 2015 goals. That includes a task force that will look at the structure of the school day and launching an administrator intern program, among other actions.
“We’re working very hard,” Torres said. “We’re very focused on changing this trajectory.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun