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PHS: The report card is in

PRINCETON – Princeton High School students continue to score above academic state averages, according to the 2013 Illinois Report Card.

The recently-released Illinois Report Card shows PHS students have had above state averages for the PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Exam) for the past four years. As an example, PHS students had a composite score in reading and math of 65 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards, compared to a state score of 53 percent.

In explaining some of the information on the PHS Report Card, PHS Principal Andy Berlinski said the PSAE has two components. Day 1 of the testing is the ACT which tests English, math, reading and science, and Day 2 is the WorkKeys testing for applied math and applied reading, which determines whether the student can apply what he/she has learned in the classroom to non-classroom situations. 

Once again this year, PHS did not meet AYP (adequate yearly progress), which is the percentage of students who are to meet and/or exceed standards on the PSAE examination, Berlinski said.

“What is flawed with this system is that the examination doesn’t take into account that the students testing change every year. It is a single point of data rather than a Point A to Point B comparison,” Berlinski said. “We prefer to look at the level a student entered our building as ninth-graders and the growth they made from that time until their taking of the PSAE. AYP does not take the individual student growth into account.”

With the implementation of the new Common Core Standards, the PSAE as it is now known will no longer exist, Berlinski said. Instead, the new PARCC Assessment will take the place of the EXPLORE testing for freshmen, the PLAN testing for sophomores, and the PSAE for juniors, he said.

The PARCC Assessment will be given to each PHS student a minimum of twice a year throughout high school, Berlinski said. Additionally, the PARCC will replace the ISAT testing given at elementary schools for many years.

“I believe this testing will be able to provide some great long-term longitudinal data,” Berlinski added.

In addition to the academic information, the PHS Report Card also gives a snapshot into other aspects of PHS, including student mobility and graduation rates, low-income student rates, class size, revenue sources for the district, the costs to educate each student and teacher education.

For instance, the report card shows 87 percent of PHS students graduate in four years. Within five years, PHS has a graduation rate of 90 percent of its students. The district has an 8 percent student mobility rate, and 31 percent of its students are considered to be low-income The cost per student for instructional spending is $7,421, with another $11,835 spent per student in operational spending.

Looking at the value of the Illinois State Report Card, Berlinski said PHS administration and staff do a great deal with the data analysis of the PSAE test results, including an individual item analysis of test questions to determine areas of focus within the teaching and curriculum at PHS.

As far as the value of the report card for parents, Berlinski recommended parents and community members visit the new Illinois Interactive Report Card and look up Princeton High School. The state has redesigned the layout to make school data and information more user-friendly.

Though the report card was not reviewed in detail at the recent October school board meeting, Superintendent Kirk Haring did comment on the report card, saying PHS students did well in comparison to other districts in Illinois. The positive results is to the credit of the staff and most importantly to the students for taking it seriously and putting forth their best efforts, he said.

“I’m very happy with those scores,” Haring said. “I look forward to continuing to find ways to improve on those scores.”

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