Is Reading at the 20% Level Good Enough for Illinois Students?

That’s pretty much the question that former Huntley School Board member Larry Snow asks in a a column posted on The Champion today.

“…in Illinois teachers are informing parents how their children are passing in reading when they can read as poorly as those at the bottom 20th percentile nationally.”

Snow finds no outcry about this false impression that everything’s OK in Illinois schools.

“Illinois teachers as an overall group simply don’t want the public to expect their child in the 5th grade to be reading at the fifth grade level” he adds. “Making the ISAT pass grade be at 20 percent nationally had no opposition from former union teachers, now administrators.”

He works in teacher workload, salaries and benefits as he spotlights Chicago, Elgin, Rockford and Lemont (87% white) School Districts.

From the Rockford School Distric't web site.

“In three of the worst and largest school districts in Illinois, teachers in Elgin U-46 and Rockford don’t pay a penny while those in Chicago pay 2 percent. That’s also without having to pay a penny into Social Security,” he observes.

 

“On Rockford’s home page the district boasts ‘Rockford World-Class Education.’

“You are supposed to accept an average ACT score of 18.4 is ‘world class’ along with more than 37 percent of all students reading below, low (20th percentile nationally) state standards.”

Snow notes that in Rockford “more than 70 percent of its 1,843 teachers having Masters Degrees. What have they ‘mastered’ about teaching when their students are learning so little?

“The standards for learning ‘teaching’ are far too low when on-the-job, real-world results from those who have ‘mastered’ teaching are abysmal.”

And Elgin?

“Elgin U-46 has 23 percent of its 7th graders reading at, or below, low (20th percentile nationally) state standards, when 67.7 percent of its 2,332 teachers have Masters Degrees, and all teachers are being paid salaries averaging over $70,000. Half of its students ‘achieve’ an ACT score of 19.6 and less.”

Snow concludes that collective bargaining is to blame:

“Public unions insist they have a ‘right’ to collectively bargain for low standards in education and make taxpayers overpay for poor teacher performance.

“Now they are calling it a civil right.

“The high percentage of Masters Degree teachers in the worst and largest school districts shows how harmful collective bargaining is to helping students actually learn.”

You can read the entire piece here.


Comments

Is Reading at the 20% Level Good Enough for Illinois Students? — 16 Comments

  1. Haven’t you been brainwashed into the “it’s for the kids” mantra the unions are feeding? What a joke!

  2. But cutting teacher’s benefits and/or pay will improve these results right? And promote the teaching field to be more desirable to potential/future educators?

  3. But cutting teacher’s benefits and/or pay will improve these results right? And promote the teaching field to be more desirable to potential/future educators?

  4. Oh Cal, you certainly don’t take much pride in publishing complete information, do you?

    any reason why you chose two districts with a large number of students for whom English is not a native language?

    why don’t you post the same figures for D158? Or for New Trier, or look for U46 numbers that exclude ESL population?

    you “shop” around for numbers that suit your stance. I know you are just a blog, not a news organization, but you’d think if you wanted to be taken seriously, you’d go with some more statistically meaningful numbers

  5. Decade after decade it has been “More money! We’ll do a lot better and get better results (but don’t measure us) with more money!” The Internet and the non-liberal news have made it increasingly clear that a number of countries with LESS resources are doing a far better job for their children’s education and therefore for their country’s future.

    I don’t think our Education Industry is oblivious to this fact. I just think it is the giant Educations Industry “shhhhhh” in the “room”.

    And, somehow, Educators keep patting themselves on the back – meeting after meeting and award after award. Sometimes I wonder when they have time to actually teach. Strangely, we the people aren’t supposed to measure them because they all want to be “equal” when it comes to raises and benefits. Fox guarding the henhouse?

    Does it surprise anyone that the reason for failure keeps changing? It was the government’s fault….the black cat’s fault……or my favorite….the parents’ fault.

    One day we’re told that educators know how to overcome home influence or lack of home influence and the next day – the parents get blamed. Then there are the complaints about so-called “helicopter parents”. Now it’s back to “just” blaming the parents again – parents who are desperate to find jobs or are working multiple jobs to afford to pay teachers generous salaries and benefits even in a crashed economy.

    Something is very, very broken.

    Does this automatically make teachers bad people? No. There are some excellent teachers. The rest either shoudn’t be teaching (though they know the salary, benefits and almost guaranteed job when you reach tenure time is a good gig to hang onto) or perhaps they believe their own PR machine and praise…..despite the statistics that show the praise doesn’t seem to be justified.

  6. Cal, for Alex G’s sake, is there any follow on info coming about more school districts?

    Alex G, Didn’t Cal already point out McHenry 156 teachers not paying a dime into their pensions?

  7. Cal, for Alex G’s sake, is there any follow on info coming about more school districts?

    Alex G, Didn’t Cal already point out McHenry 156 teachers not paying a dime into their pensions?

  8. Um – “You may want to know” – but did Cal talk about the READING SCORES of that district, to make his little point about those reading below grade level, or did he only pick districts with large numbers of non-native English speakers?

    Aileen – hello, since you are posting again, how about you post D158 reading scores, hmmmm? You are a school board member for another month or so, right?

  9. Alex G,

    The Illinois Interactive Report Card for District 158 shows that 5% of their 7th graders were reading below the state standard.

    That same source lists the Hispanic population of U-46 at 44%

    Cal, Larry Snow, and Aileen are quite well known for telling half-truths and using numbers to mislead the unwary public.

  10. “The Internet and the non-liberal news have made it increasingly clear that a number of countries with LESS resources are doing a far better job for their children’s education and therefore for their country’s future”

    oh, Aileen, this might be my favorite quote from you ever. Really? Because you know that most of those countries you are likely referring to have government oversight at the FEDERAL/National level for education, right???? Could you pretty please give us some examples??

    wow, who knew that D158 board member appreciates the overnight that happens at a National level for education in so many other countries. You know it works better for heathcare, too, right?

    Anyone else wonder why Larry Snow/Cal didn’t choose to highlight a local school district like D158, Woodstock, McHenry, etc? He had to choose Rockford, Elgin and Chicago itself…. then search for one random “mostly white” district that is as far away from here as possible….talk about shopping for numbers to make his point!

  11. Alex G: One point that Snow made was all students in all Illinois districts are judged to have a passing reading score when they hit the 20th percentile nationally. How is this shopping for numbers?

    Unless you mean lowering numbers so low to make parents think they are reading at grade level when they really aren’t.

    20 percent for a passing grade in reading seems outrageously ridiculous. Even for Illinois.

  12. The reference is to percentiles or rankings within a group, not percentages. 20th percentile means lower than 80% of peers and higher than 20%. It does not mean a score of 20% as you may want to know indicates.

    Please note that we are talking about a pass/fail distinction. We are not talking about goals or averages. What would be a more appropriate standard for failing – 50th percentile? So then if one isn’t at least average, he fails. How pray tell do we we get more than half the kids into the top half? I love when groups or indifivuals have criticism, but no suggestions to improve. They attack things they don’t like and draw enough bogus conclusions to empty a Crayola box of 64.

  13. Dear Laird: It looks like you are for low standards because your wife was or still is a union official.

    20th percentile in reading nationally is a ridiculous standard yet the teachers and their union officials are all Yippy Ki Yeah! about it.

    How about allowing administrators to get rid of lousy tenured teachers, as a practical matter without having to spend a quarter million fighting the union who is all for keeping the worst teachers on the job?

    This is an easy solution the teachers unions oppose. And make education systematically worse in Illinois.

  14. You may want to know that if you actually read the report that Larry Snow’s article is based on, Illinois’ reading standard cut scores are actually in the top third in the country. Of course, this would have required you to do some research, since Larry never acknowledges his sources. It makes it harder for anyone to challenge him.

    Mike asked you a valid question: What would you set the standard at? 20th percentile is within one standard deviation of the average.

  15. Sprat: Even Arne Duncan has publicly, harshly criticized LOW Illinois learning standards and cut scores.

    They are Definitely NOT in the top third in the country, per your exaggerated claim. The union funds people who write wild false exaggerations like the public sector makes less than the private sector. The authors of this paid-for gunk ignore benefits and pensions and compare teachers’ less than nine month salaries to laywers and doctors.

    Illinois teachers wants to be compared to other union dominated states like New York and California. Your logic is if we jointly are terrible than kudos for the teachers.

    It is absurd that teachers unions’ abuses result in more than 30 percent of all kids not graduating from high school. Only 14 percent of people (43.6 million per USA Today) live in poverty of the U.S. population’s 310 million. It’s why teachers always talk about poverty without mentioning the stats.

    It’s typical and typically absurd that the teachers in Chicago insist on having only 170 work days.

  16. Would You be in favor of requiring that 80-90% of students score in the top 50% of students? Or maybe You think that 100% of students should be in the top 50%? How would abolishing teachers unions suddenly make the mathematically impossible possible?

    You are however correct about my motives for suggesting that empty logic won’t actually help improve anything. Let’s ignore that I have one child in school already and two more entering in the next five years. Let’s ignore that I am relying on these schools to educate my children through about 2028. You are absolutely correct that I want to ensure they don’t have the best education possible. You are right on the money that I want to ensure that they only have access to all of these terrible teachers of whom You speak. Or maybe I do actually want what’s best for not only my kids, but my neighbors kids? Naahhh. That last one is just plain ridiculous. I must be purely motivated by selfish interest and greed.

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