State test data unveiled Monday indicates an optimistic recovery from the pandemic for Illinois public school students in terms of enhanced English proficiency, increased graduation rates, and greater enrollment in advanced courses. However, math scores continue to lag behind their pre-pandemic performance, suggesting a need for further focus, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Approximately 35% of Illinois students from grades three to 11 demonstrated proficiency in reading and writing in the tests administered in the spring. This rate marks an improvement from the previous two years' 30% despite remaining below the nearly 38% rate from 2019. In contrast, math proficiency was achieved by only 27% of students compared to the almost 32% rate before the pandemic in 2019.
The lag in math recovery, emphasized by these results, is a testament to how the pandemic disruptions have particularly affected students. An increase in chronic absenteeism from 17.5% in 2019 to 28.3% underlines the urgent need for a thorough academic and emotional rebound from the pandemic's impact, as noted by the Chicago Sun-Times.
An observed expansion in racial disparities during the pandemic needs to be addressed as well. Recent national data highlights the greater detriment to Black and Hispanic students, exacerbating long-standing educational inequalities. Specifically in Illinois, proficient reading rates were 16% and 22% for Black and Latino students respectively, while white and Asian students reported rates of 45% and 63% respectively. Proficiency in math was achieved by merely 8% of Black students and 14% of Latino students.
However, it is crucial to spotlight the higher growth in reading state test results demonstrated amongst Black students than any other racial or ethnic group, as pointed out by Illinois Superintendent of Education, Tony Sanders. Further, the state has been boosting educational funding, specifically targeting historically underfunded districts through a new funding formula. This approach has diverted $2.38 billion to schools to equip districts and students in highest-need states.