Lyons Township High School District 204 failed to meet federal targets for standardized test scores, state data released Thursday shows.
The district fell short of a federal benchmark that required 92.5 percent of student who took the test this year to meet reading and math standards. The district has not met the federal threshold since 2006, Lyons Township High School Curriculum and Instruction Director Scott Eggerding said.
"There are all sorts of indicators that we've made improvements, yet we fail based on another measure every year," Eggerding said. "So it's kind of hard to put much stock in those scores."
Overall, 74.5 percent of Lyons Township High School juniors met standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination, Illinois' standardized test, according to data released by the state. The results of the exam determine districts' compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. At the state level, about half of students met standards.
The report breaks out scores for subgroups based on factors such as race, whether a student has a disability and income level.
The Hispanic subgroup, representing the largest minority population at Lyons Township, makes up 17 percent of the student body, according to district demographic data.
Scores for Hispanic students improved this year over last year, and the group's reading score was the highest it has been since 2007, Eggerding noted.
However, the scores still lag behind other groups. This year, 42.6 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded standards on reading tests, while 49.7 percent met or exceeded standards on math tests, Eggerding said.
That compares to an overall score of 75.3 percent for juniors who met or exceeded standards in reading, and 73.7 percent who met or exceeded standards in math, according to state data.
"We recognize that there is a different between those subgroups and we're doing our best to close that gap," Lyons Township High School Superintendent Tim Kilrea said. "But it is a challenge that's faced by many school districts."
The district employs a Hispanic student liaison whose job is directing parents and students to resources the school offers, including tutors and interpreters, Kilrea said.
In general, the district is more concerned with measuring students' progress from year to year, using other tests in addition to the Prairie State, than it is with the federal targets, Kilrea said.
"We pay close attention to the target, but we also know that there are internal measures to show student growth," he said.
Eggerding cited numbers that were .3 percent higher than the state-issued numbers for overall performance in math and reading. The district did not respond to a request for clarification regarding the difference before press time. The school's black population was 3.9 percent and its Asian population 1.8 percent, according to the data.
In recent years, the district has had to submit a plan to the state showing it is taking steps to improve all students' scores, Kilrea said. In the 2014-15 school year, Illinois schools are scheduled to switch to a new test that will be taken online. Lyons has not yet been shown the test, Eggerding said.
As part of the Prairie State test, all Illinois students take the ACT college-entrance exam. The district's composite score for the Class of 2013 dropped compared to the Class of 2012's score, as the testing company included low scores it had not previously included.
Including scores of a group of students with disabilities for the first time, the high school's composite score dropped from 24 to 23.6, according to test results scheduled to be released Thursday.
If the school had not counted those scores, the composite score would have been 23.9 — a smaller drop from the previous year's score, Eggerding said. In 2011, the composite was 24.1, according to district data.
Lyons Township High School students outperformed the state ACT average. The Illinois ACT composite was 20.6 for 2013, down from 20.9 for 2012, according to ACT data. The national average dropped to 20.9 from 21.1. The maximum possible score is 36.