Schools Try to Stop Slide in Reading Skills Teachers Add English, Writing to Other Classes

By Minor, Ray | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 7, 1996 | Go to article overview

Schools Try to Stop Slide in Reading Skills Teachers Add English, Writing to Other Classes


Minor, Ray, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Ray Minor Daily Herald Staff Writer

As other schools scramble to explain steady drops in standardized test scores, high schools in the northern Fox Valley generally have maintained their pace of high marks.

While most 1996 test scores top state averages, some results, especially in reading, show a decline, according to an analysis of the Illinois Goals Assessment Program tests given each spring.

For years, Fox Valley districts have boasted about the number of students who exceed state standards on the IGAP tests. However, in some cases, the rate of students surpassing state goals isn't as high as it used to be.

Tenth-grade reading was a prime example where state goals were harder to conquer in 1996 than in 1993 and 1994, according to IGAP records.

At Cary-Grove High School in Cary, the percentage of students exceeding state goals dropped from a high of 42 percent in 1994 to 30 percent this year.

At Jacobs High School in Algonquin, the percentage dropped from 42 percent in 1993 and 1994 to nearly half that this year.

And the story is similar at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, where 28 percent surpassed state goals in 1993 but only 19 percent did this year.

While other test scores and percentages increased or remained steady, the reading decline sparked a study last year by state education Superintendent Joseph Spagnolo.

"We are very concerned about them (reading scores)," said Lee Milner, spokesman for the state Board of Education. "It's not just whether you can see and read the words, but what you can get from the passage."

Spagnolo's committee made dozens of recommendations to improve reading scores statewide.

Some suggestions include increasing teacher training, combining phonics teaching with the whole language approach used now in schools and developing ways to get parents more involved in education.

Locally, one complaint about lower scores often heard is students know the IGAP tests don't count for their grades, so they don't try as hard. …

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