Illinois high schools have found a way to look good on the Prairie State exam given to juniors, reports Education Week. Juniors who are behind on credits are defined as sophomores. That means the low achievers don’t take the test. But most move on the next year to 12th grade, where their test scores aren’t counted for federal or state accountability purposes.
Rich East High School has seen state test scores for its 11th-graders improve by a stunning 37 percent during the last two years — a gain so impressive that regional education officials asked the Park Forest school to host a seminar to help others emulate its success.
There’s only one problem: Rich East did not give the Prairie State Achievement Exam to about 40 percent of its juniors last school year. And it excluded the ones furthest behind academically.
A Chicago Tribune analysis found that 20 percent of Illinois sophomores weren’t counted as juniors the following year and didn’t take the Prairie State Exam, which includes ACT questions.