Would residents invest in a failing Hall High School?
That is the question superintendent Mike Struna would like to change by taking action against poor results revealed by the recent school report card.
At last week’s board meeting, Struna discussed the findings from the Illinois State Board of Education report card with the board. He called the results unacceptable and hoped to make changes in the school to turn them around.
The attendance rate for the school held at 95 percent; however, the graduation rate dropped from 87 percent to 78 percent. The school has 85 percent of the female population graduating and 72 percent of males. Struna said the school had 20 students who could have graduated last year but did not. Six of the students attended Hall all four years, three were expelled, five dropped out and six transferred in. Struna said the two groups he was most worried about dropouts and students who attended Hall all four years.
“We have some control over these two groups. Those 11 students we should have gotten to graduation,” said Struna. “We’ve got to do better there.”
Struna said the goal was to get back into the upper 80 percent range as in the year before. The school offers several programs to help, including online classes, summer school and the school’s Response to Intervention program which works with struggling students to have them take double math and English courses, said Struna.
The program was started with freshmen students three years ago and because current data reflects current seniors, Struna said the full results of the intervention program would not make it to the report card until next year. Struna said the practice tests given to the students for the explorer and ACT tests look good, but Hall officials will have to wait for the real test results to see for sure.
The school has 47 percent of students meeting or exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards in reading, math and science with a state average of 48 percent. This dropped from 52 percent the year before.
“I am not going to stand here and blame this year’s seniors,” said Struna. “They’re a product of the education here and we have a job to do.”
Struna said it was unacceptable to say that less than half of Hall students are passing.
In reading scores, 50 percent of students were meeting or exceeding state standards on official tests with a state average of 53 percent. This dropped from 59 percent the year before. However, students exceeding reading standards went up from 5 percent to 11 percent. Struna said Hall had a four-year streak of being above the state average with 64 percent in 2011, but this past year had a “little hiccup.” He said they have begun working with reading and comprehension skills outside of English classes to better prepare students for the test.
The school had a slight drop in students meeting or exceeding mathematics expectations for their age, from 48 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2013 with a state average of 52 percent. Struna said the school has struggled with math scores all seven years he has been superintendent. Even more discouraging, said Struna, was the number students exceeding math standards was 1 percent which is down from last year’s 6 percent.
“I understand that we have students that come in below what they need to be for math,” he said “But these are our best students. We cannot accept that one student out of 24 exceed.”
In science, student scores dropped from 49 percent the year before to 45 percent with a state average of 49 percent. The students exceeding standards had a slight drop from 6 percent to 5 percent. Struna suggested looking at some freshman students taking biology to help improve the better student’s scores.
The report also showed that the school spends an average of $7,712 per student on education which is above the $6,974 state average. The school also has an operating expense — includes everything from transportation to maintenance to education, of $13,746 per student — that is above the $11,842 state average.
Struna told the board that during the campaign to pass the $32 million referendum for the new school, he asked residents of the district to invest in Hall’s future. He said the scores did not show a good return on investment and need to be improved upon.
“As a board, you should be upset about it,” he told the board members.
Struna said that at the next board meeting he plans to present ideas on things the school can do to improve next year’s scores which go above and over what they are doing now.
“The first year in the new school we have to have a better plan of what we are doing,” he said.
Alicia LeGrand-Riniker can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or email@example.com