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MCHS students post highest test scores in dozen years

Morris Community High School District 101 students have achieved their highest state test scores in 12 years.

Because of this improvement, the school reached adequate yearly progress for the first time since the 2006-2007 school year. Although it did not meet the required 92.5 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards, it met the Safe Harbor Targets, which means it exceeded the previous year’s scores by 10 percent.

“We are eligible for one year [of meeting] AYP,” Principal Kelly Hussey said to the school board Monday.

As part of No Child Left Behind, every year the percentage of students required to meet or exceed state standards in math and reading on the Prairie State Achievement Examination increases. The test is taken during junior year.

This year, the percentage to be met in order to achieve adequate yearly progress is 92.5 percent of students.

At Morris Community High School this year, 65.3 percent of students met or exceeded the state standard in reading and 64.8 percent did so in math. AYP does not measure science, but Hussey said 68 percent of Morris students met or exceeded science standards.

Since these scores are 10 percent higher than those in last year’s AYP report, District 101 met the Safe Harbor Targets and, therefore, have officially met AYP this year.

In a meeting prior to the school board meeting, Hussey said this was the first time he was able to tell a senior class about an academic achievement the students all cheered for.

“Just as we dig into the reasons why something doesn’t go well, we dig into the reasons why they do go well to replicate them,” Superintendent Pat Halloran said to the board Monday.

The district will be looking for sustained performance over time to know its improvement efforts are making a difference, Halloran said.

Hussey elaborated that the district’s school improvement process targeted many things, including test preparation, curriculum changes and instructional improvements.

He highlighted for the board some of the changes implemented through the years, including extending the math program and the implementation of Read 180, a reading intervention program.

Upon a closer look, it appears the students’ second-day scores were significantly higher than second-day scores from those of the junior classes in the last three years. On the first day of testing, students take the mandatory ACT test. On the second, its an Illinois State Board of Elections-developed assessment called “WorkKeys.” The PSAE scoring is a combination of both Day 1 and Day 2 scores.

Through school improvement progress, students are getting more experience with Day 2 testing questions through the “Key Train” program. This current senior class, which took the state tests as juniors, is the first class to have three years of “Key Train,” with students taking a pretest, setting goals and taking a post test to prepare for the state testing, Hussey said.

In addition, on day two, students are given the option to take an additional test that can result in the student receiving a National Career Readiness Certificate. According to, the certificate is a credential that demonstrates achievement and workplace employability skills in applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information.

Hussey said he believes this certificate has had a psychological impact on the students, since it has become an important standard for employers with some major unions and in corporate America. The students have to find out if they are eligible for the certificate by seeking it out online and printing it themselves.

“We are very positive about the movement that we’re making,” Hussey said. “We didn’t meet the 92.5 percent meets and exceeds, but we reached our highest level overall and I believe its is because of the concerted effort in our improvements.”

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