D181 students stack up well against peers

Eight of the nine Community Consolidated School District 181 buildings are seeing high growth and high achievement among students when measured against their counterparts at comparable schools.

That was one of the main findings of the Similar Schools report district board members heard at Monday’s meeting. In her presentation, Tracey Miller, director of assessment, instruction and evaluation, said the district commissioned the nonprofit NWEA to conduct the study. Criteria used to identify alike schools include percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch, those in a suburban setting and the number of instructional weeks that students had prior to testing.

“They look at each individual student and they pair them with a student of the same grade who took the same subject and who had the same — in this case, fall (of 2020) — RIT score, so that we’re looking a similar levels of achievement for those students,” she said, adding that 51 pairings are made per student.

“They find 51 students, and compare those students’ fall to spring growth to the growth of our student.”

In most cases district students compared favorably, Miller said, meaning they grew as well as or better than 50 percent of their matched peers.

“All of our decile bands did exceed that 50th-percentile expectation in the area of math,” she said. “We’re very excited to see that not only is growth occurring for students who are receiving additional supports or students who are receiving extensions, but also for students who are in any decile band within our district.”

In math, about two-thirds of the district’s students fall between the 70th and 99th percentiles. That figure is near 72 percent in reading. And eight of nine buildings showed both high growth and high achievement in reading and math. That’s a improvement from previous years, Miller stated.

“It is one of the celebrations that we’re excited to share with you tonight,” she said.

Hinsdale Middle School registered low growth and high achievement according to the metrics, which Collins said is being addressed,

“We did talk at (the academic success committee) about some supports or some things that will be different for HMS this year since they are the one building that is below the 50th percentile of median matched growth,” she said.

Growth levels in fifth, sixth and seventh grades in general were lower than the younger grades, the report showed. Board member Sheetal Rao underscored the importance of directing resources to those older grades.

“I would like to see the same growth in those grades as we see in the elementary grades,” Rao said. “I think it’s great that you’re able to target those interventions to hopefully improve that growth in those grades.”

Collins said the takeaway is that district students are demonstrating a strong ability to improve their learning, especially in light of the past year’s pandemic challenges.

“D181 students are achieving and growing at a higher rate than their similar matched peers,” she said. “Regardless of where a student’s starting achievement is, we see them growing at a rate that exceeds their matched peers.”

The presentation is available on BoardDocs on the district’s website, https://www.d181.org.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean