While the 2014 School Report Card shows Homewood-Flossmoor High School on par with schools across the state, the state-mandated data doesn’t tell the full story of what goes on at H-F, says Jodi Bryant, Director of Human Resources and Public Relations.
Faculty and administrators typically use numerous indicators over four years for a more complete picture of the abilities of H-F students.
H-F tests students as incoming freshmen through their senior year to gain assessments of how the students will do in classes, what assistance they need to meet and exceed graduation requirements and how best to push students to meet the rigors of H-F and prepare for college. Each of these tests plays a role when faculty decides how best to approach student needs through classwork.
The 2014 School Report Card, released in October, is based on juniors taking the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). The report gives a percentage of students meeting and exceeding state standards. In reading, H-F students were at 58 percent compared to 56 percent statewide; 49 percent in math compared to 52 percent statewide; and 49 percent in science compared to 50 percent statewide.
The PSAE is given over two days. The first day, all students take the ACT, a college placement exam. On day two, students take the WorkKeys exam developed by the Illinois State Board of Education for assessments in science, applied math and reading for information.
The School Report Card also shows H-F with 93 percent daily attendance and a graduation rate of 94 percent. H-F has what many consider tough graduation requirements. All students—whether headed to college or not—must complete Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
“These requirements have been in place since 2004 because we felt we needed to increase the rigors of our curriculum and increase the rigors for our students,” said Bryant.
The report card information also shows 80 percent of H-F students go on to college, but Bryant said that number is low. H-F says the number is closer to 90 percent after including non-reported college students and those enrolled in community college. The number also doesn’t record students entering the military or going into the trades.
“I think when looking at all schools and trying to make a judgment call you should look at several indicators and what we’re doing for all kids,” Bryant said. She believes the School Report Card exam—which only tests juniors—doesn’t relate to all H-F data for students from their freshman year through graduation. That data is “the internal assessment frameworks that we have. We know where students come in as freshmen and we know how much we’ve moved them all the way to their senior year,” she explained.
Bryant said H-F takes those numbers, recognizes which students are struggling and designs interventions and programs. “So, every number and data point is useful; it just needs to be part of the larger picture” of school assessment, she added.
Illinois is replacing the PSAE with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam in 2015 because it conforms more closely to the new mandates of the Common Core curriculum based on consistent, real-world learning goals and expectations for what students should learn in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level.
The change means students in Illinois high schools will no longer take the ACT college entrance exam as an achievement measurement. However, H-F will continue to test students with the ACT, Bryant said, because it is one of the best measurements of student progress relating to H-F’s intensive curriculum.
Contact Marilyn Thomas at [email protected]