Illinois releases its school report card every year at the end of October, and the data presented can help you and your PTA understand what is happening in your district and in your child’s school. This year, because of the pandemic, there are a lot of exceptions noted on the school report card, but there is still plenty of useful information as well.
The most noticeable items on the report card are not surprising—tags indicating data that was not available due to COVID-19, including:
- Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) results aren’t available because testing was not completed for most districts when schools shut down in the spring.
- School designations (exemplary, commendable, targeted, and comprehensive) are the same as 2019 due to the lack of new IAR results.
- Many of the data items on the report card have a notice that there may be COVID-19 impacts on that data (e.g., chronic absenteeism, graduation rate).
- The At-a-Glance summary PDF pages for each school are not available because too much of the information included on them was not available due to COVID-19.
Despite the challenges the pandemic has presented, there is also some new useful items included on the report card this year.
- Site-specific expenditure reporting, new last year, now has a second year of reporting that shows per student funding for each school in the district and how it has changed since last year.
- The students section of the report card now has information on the number and percentage of students assessed and identified as gifted, as well as those being taught by a gifted-endorsed teacher (i.e., certified in gifted education), with the data also broken down by demographics.
- In the accountability section, school improvement funds are identified at the school level along with the reason those funds were provided.
- Kindergarten readiness from the KIDS survey is now included in the school district environment section under Early Learning.
The data on the report card for your school and district is there to spark meaningful conversations with your school and district leaders. Why are some schools better supported financially than others? Are students being fairly assessed for gifted education? How much does the state underfunding education affect my child’s school and district? Visit the Illinois report card to start digging into these and other questions.