Students in are continuing to make great strides in the areas of math and reading, closing the achievement gap among white and minority students and producing test scores on par with its neighboring school districts.
Since 2004, District 202 students -- 40 percent of whom come from -- raised their reading test scores by 18.2 percentage points, jumping from 62.7 students who met state standards in 2004 to 80.9 percent of students who met state standards in 2011.
Reading scores are less than 10 percentage points lower than nearby Naperville Community Unit School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 and less than three percentage points behind Oswego Community Unit School District 308.
In math, Plainfield students increased their state test scores by 20.3 percentage points, climbing from 66.3 percent of students who met or exceeded state standards in 2004 to 86.6 percent of students who met state standards in 2011.
Math scores are less than six percentage points lower than Districts 203 and 204 and less than one percentage point lower than District 308.
In a presentation to the District 202 school board on Monday, Carmen Ayala, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the district is quite different than it was just less than a decade ago.
In about seven years, the district gained more than 10,000 students, and saw its demographics shift. In 2004, 75.7 percent of the district’s students were white, 7.5 percent were black and 13.4 percent were Hispanic. In 2011, 59.2 percent of the district’s students were white, 8.8 percent were black and 23.1 percent Hispanic.
The number of low-income families has also risen from just 2.8 percent in 2004 to 17.3 percent in 2011.
Still, Ayala said, the district is closing the achievement gap between its minority students, reflecting the various diversity training within the district to help meet all students’ learning needs.
In 2004, white students outscored black students by about 23 percentage points in reading and by about 25 percentage points in math. The gap was cut nearly in half over the last seven years, with the difference between white and black students closing to about 15 percentage points in reading and 13 percentage points in math.
Minority students have also made great strides on their test scores. In 2004, District 202 minority students had some of the lowest scores among neighboring school districts, but have made some of the most progress.
In 2004, 43.1 percent of black students met state standards, but in 2011, 70.4 percent of black students met state standards, which is higher than Valley View School District 365U and Oswego School District 308.
The gap between whites and Hispanics in reading in 2004 was about 15 percentage points, and dropped by 2011 to 13.2 percentage points. In math, the achievement gap between whites and Hispanics in 2004 was 15.3 percentage points, which decreased in 2011 to 9.7 percentage points.
Ayala said recognition for the improved test scores goes to the hundreds of teachers who help develop the curriculum process as well as the district administration, students and parents.
Still, the district, which has cut about 360 full-time teaching, support staff and administration positions and several educational programs to save about $45 million, has to determine if the decreased staff will negatively affect students’ test scores and learning.
Data suggests that student achievement has declined slightly since 2009 when program and staff cuts were made to address operating fund deficits.
Reading scores dipped from about 82.4 percent in 2009 that met state standards to 80.9 percent in 2011, and math scores dipped by two percentage points from 88.6 percent who met state standards in 2010.