The Illinois State Board of Education’s annual assessment of schools’ performance shows a stable four-year graduation rate, as the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission met to discuss special and early childhood education.
In other news, Lloyd Karmeier was sworn in as the 120th chief justice to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the United States Department of Agriculture reported that Illinois farmers are well on their way to wrapping up harvest.
And November 4 has been declared as “World Champion Chicago Cubs Day” across Illinois in celebration of the team winning the 2016 World Series. Hundreds of thousands of fans crowded Chicago streets as the team traveled from Wrigley Field to a rally in Grant Park in Chicago to commemorate the Cubs’ first World Series championship since 1908.
Illinois schools receive annual report card
The Illinois State Board of Education released its yearly Report Card October 31, which showed a stable four-year graduation rate of 86 percent, a dropout rate of 2 percent and an average class size of 21.
The report also determined that approximately 46 percent of students were “college ready,” scoring an ACT score of 21 or higher. Meanwhile, only 33 percent of students met or exceeded performance level on the PARCC.
State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said that though “Report Card indicators mostly held steady….we must make major changes to the way we fund our public schools and fundamentally shift our approach to education.” This is a challenge state lawmakers are currently tackling as the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission continues to meet and discuss school funding in Illinois.
The annual report is an assessment of Illinois schools’ performance, including data on academic progress in areas such as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam performance, graduation rates and college readiness, school finances, dropout rates, class sizes, student and teacher demographics and principal turnover.
To view local schools or districts snapshots, visit http://www.illinoisreportcard.com/.
School Funding Reform Commission focuses on special populations
The Illinois School Funding Reform Commission met for the seventh time, this time addressing special populations, including special and early childhood education. On November 2, the Commission, which includes four Senate Republican members, heard testimony on school district spending toward special education services and input on how the current education formula impacts special education funding.
Other points addressed included the disproportionate funds awarded to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for special education services, which more than triples the statewide average. At the same time, CPS is also raking in approximately 37 percent of the funding awarded by the Early Childhood Block Grant. The Commission meeting concluded before being able to discuss bilingual education, but is expected to take up the topic at the next meeting.
Illinois Supreme Court receives new Chief Justice
On October 31, Justice Lloyd Karmeier was sworn in as the 120th Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Having served on the state’s highest court since 2004, Justice Karmeier was unanimously chosen by his colleagues to replace former Chief Justice Rita Garman.
The newly-installed Chief Justice was reported by the Illinois State Bar Association as saying, “Since joining the court in 2004, I have had the privilege of serving under five different chief justices, all of whom have done an outstanding job. I will do my very best to live up to the high standard they have set.”
Chief Justice Karmeier received his J.D. degree in 1964 from the University of Illinois.
Illinois farmers finishing up with harvest
The Illinois corn and soybean harvest is nearing completion thanks to continued dry weather in many parts of the state. Outside of the most Northeastern part of the state, temperatures last week averaged from two to nearly six degrees warmer than usual.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 91 percent of Illinois corn acres have now been harvested, with 89 percent of soybeans finished. Harvest progress for both crops is ahead of the five-year average for this time of year, though farmers in 2015 had made slightly more progress by the end of October, with both crops at 95 percent complete then.
The most recent USDA crop forecast predicts a statewide corn yield average of 202 bushels per acre, 27 bushels higher than 2015. Soybeans are forecast to hit a statewide average of 62 bushels per acre, six bushels more than 2015.
Illinois wheat acres are now 85 percent planted, with 63 percent of the plants having already emerged from the soil.
Soil conditions look good as farmers begin to look forward to the spring planting season. Eighty percent of topsoil is rated as having adequate moisture, with 87 percent of subsoil receiving the same mark.