Friday, October 31, 2014 || By Michael Romain || Updated: 7:48 PM
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The Chicago Sun-Times released its annual ranking of state standardized test scores today. This year, Chicago’s elite selective-enrollment schools, such as Whitney Young and Walter Payton College Prep, dominated the top of the list — as they did in 2013. Rounding out the top ten are open-enrollment schools in some of the state’s wealthiest and most exclusive school districts in places such as Winnetka, Hinsdale and Lincolnshire.
The rankings are based on data compiled, and released annually, by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The rankings, which the paper has been publishing for more than a decade, are based “on average scores on state achievement tests, not on the percentage who meet state standards — a measure that has come under criticism,” according to a statement on the paper’s website.
The paper’s elementary school rankings are based on the test results of students in third or fifth grade; middle school rankings reflect the test results of students in grades sixth through eighth; and high school rankings are based on the results of students in 11th grade.
Kindergarten through eighth grade schools can be included in both middle school and elementary school rankings. It isn’t yet known whether or not District 89’s transition to a middle-school format, which went into effect this year, will change how it’s schools are ranked in the future. As of press time, officials from the District couldn’t be reached for comment.
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As to the general spirit of the rankings, not everyone believes that they’re an effective way of gauging school quality or academic achievement.
“Carolyn Brown, a Kelly High School teacher, said her daughter transferred from [Whitney] Young [High School] to Kelly [High School] — whose students performed better than about 27 percent of state students — because she wasn’t comfortable with the competitive environment at the elite school,” according to a Sun-Times article accompanying the paper’s 2014 rankings.
“‘At the most basic level, the rankings make kids feel like going to their own neighborhood schools is a consolation prize or worse,’ Brown said. ‘They ended up there because they couldn’t get in somewhere better.’
“‘Brown said every year students at Kelly tell her, ‘ ‘I didn’t realize this was such a good school. I tried to get into fill-in-the-blank’ . . .and are surprised to find the number of programs we have here. There’s the impression that the neighborhood schools are not good enough.’
“‘Scores don’t show the whole picture of what a school can offer,’ she said.
“‘Ranking schools is a really unhealthy practice,’ Brown said. ‘It pits schools against each other. We shouldn’t be in competition with one another because we all serve the same purpose.’,” according to the article.
To compare each school’s performance this year, with that of last year, click here and search the full database of results from last year’s ranking. VFP
Correction: A previous version of the chart below detailing the performance of each school in District 89 omitted Stevenson. The chart has since been updated to reflect that correction.