2021 Illinois report card shows increase in student absences, drop in test scores

Illinois schools experienced higher chronic truancy rates and lower test scores in the 2020-21 school year, although graduation rates have remained stable, according to the state’s latest report card.

The data, released on Friday, shows the significant impact of the pandemic on student enrollment, attendance and academic success.

One in five Illinois students were chronically absent last year, missing 10% or more of the school year, with or without a valid excuse, a 21% increase from the 2018-19 school year.

Illinois public schools have also experienced a decline in enrollment, with nearly 70,000 under-enrolled students statewide. In Chicago, the school system lost 11,000 students this year. The 2.5% drop in enrollment in Illinois is on par with that of other states. Past enrollment trends predicted a decrease of 1.1 in a typical year, but COVID-19 has created a far-from-typical learning environment, officials said.

“We have witnessed both tragedy and heroism in our schools over the past year,” said the state superintendent. said Carmen Ayala. “Students and educators have lost and lived and learned so much through unthinkable obstacles, but the loss is not the whole story. “

Four-year high school graduation rates remained on track compared to previous years, and more students took college and career preparation courses.

The data show larger decreases in academic achievement among college students. The rate of ninth graders on their way to graduation fell by around 5% between 2018-19 and 2020-2021, reflecting the increase in failure scores.

Preliminary data from the springtime Illinois Assessment of Readiness tests also shows that far fewer students have achieved grade-level standards in English and math, with larger losses among English-language learners. About 16.6% fewer students met grade standards in English in 2020-2021 than in 2018-19, and about 17.8% fewer students met grade standards in mathematics . Preliminary data was collected from assessments provided to approximately 90% of the districts.

The state has received more than $ 7 billion in federal funding for schools to combat the impact of the pandemic on schools and to help districts with academic and socio-emotional needs.

Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement his administration had “worked hand-in-hand with school administrators statewide to ensure that the $ 7 billion dedicated to renewing K-12 learning for Illinois students are responding well to this long period of disruption and devastation. “

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