Arlington Heights School District 25 and Palatine's Community Consolidated School District 15 both have just one school that met national benchmarks this year, according to a Tribune analysis of data released Thursday by the state.
Greenbrier Elementary, 2330 N. Verde Drive in Arlington Heights, and Frank C. Whiteley Elementary, 4335 Haman Ave. in Hoffman Estates, were the only schools in their respective districts to achieve "adequate yearly progress," or AYP, as set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Arlington Heights-based Township High School District 214 again had no schools that hit the mark.
The district — like many others — brushed off the target, but the last time any of its six high schools made the cut was in 2010, when Prospect High School in Mount Prospect passed, according to the district report cards.
Adequate yearly progress is determined by examination of students' performance on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, the results of which were released by the Illinois State Board of Education on Thursday.
Many state educators say that meeting the standard is next to impossible.
Even the Illinois State Board of Education — which is seeking a waiver from the system — has previously said that it is flawed.
AYP is calculated by holding all demographics — including traditionally lower-performing groups such as English language-learners, students with disabilities, and minority and low-income students — to the same testing benchmark.
Those "subgroups" are tallied once a school has at least 45 students of the same background, said Chris Fahnoe, District 25's director of technology and assessment.
For a school to make adequate yearly progress, students overall and students in each subgroup must score high enough —
something Fahnoe called a "yes-no" threshold.
"A 100 percent threshold is extremely difficult to make," he said.
Last year, seven of the nine schools in District 25, including Greenbrier, Dryden, Ivy Hill, Patton, Westgate and Windsor elementary schools, met the standard.
Thomas Middle School and the district overall also passed.
Greenbrier made it again this year, while the others didn't, Fahnoe said, because it is the smallest school with just 264 students and no subgroups.
"Greenbrier is the only one that doesn't have any. Most of our buildings would have students with disabilities" as a subgroup, Fahnoe said.
In District 15, eight of 19 schools made it last year, including Whiteley, Hunting Ridge, Marion Jordan, Pleasant Hill, Thomas Jefferson and Willow Bend elementary schools.
Stuart R. Paddock School and Plum Grove Junior High also made adequate yearly progress, although the district overall did not meet the standard.
Mary Zarr, assistant superintendent for curriculum, special services and school improvement, called the school data "irrelevant."
She said Whiteley "squeaked" by, but it was not the top-performing school in the district. Whiteley, like Greenbrier, just didn't have any at-risk subgroups.
"Frank C. Whiteley is a wonderful, high-performing school and they made (adequate yearly progress) according to the formula that the state applied," Zarr said. "I think that's a terrible measure to measure schools."
In fact, Hunting Ridge outperformed Whiteley in reading, and the district's other schools also met the benchmark in either reading or in math.
"It takes a lot to administer tests that don't give us any data that help us study trends in student growth," she said.