Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why we need to focus on education

The schools in our community are in bad shape. There are 2,265 grammar schools in the state if Illinois and all four of our local schools are in the bottom 100. At John Marshall, our local high school, 3.5% of the juniors are at or above their grade levels in math and science and only 6% in reading. The average PSAT school is 4% at or above their grade level. There are 180 days in a school year. At John Marshall High School the average number of days missed is 95! Westinghouse High School, just a block away from Breakthrough, will open a new facility in the fall and none of the kids from the community grammar schools have been able to test into it.

On a positive note, we gave the Bracken test for kindergarten readiness to the kids in our Nettie Bailey Student Achievement Program. The kids who attended our Breakthrough Beginners (preschool) program tested at 72% compared to those who did not attend who are at 17%. This is strong evidence that what we are doing is important and is working. Twenty of our program graduates started college last fall. While this is significant and encouraging, we recognize we have much work to do.

Click here to support Breakthrough's academic program.


hammerdad said...

Did you listen to the recent NPR series called "50-50, the odds of graduating"? overwhelming stuff.

Westy said...

This is truly heartwrenching. The data is overwhelming. I had heard it said previously that the average ACT score at Marshall was a 10. Looking it up just now, they're showing an average of 14.2 for '08. Straight out guessing, for which there is no penalty, will allow you to score approximately an 11. The bare minimum score accepted by the NCAA for athletes (the lowest threshold accepted at many universities) is a 17 (16.5).

It's hard to believe the scores can be so low, barely above guessing, for a high school. Little wonder even the graduates from there have a hard time with college.

Knowing the situation at Marshall, I have frequently been encouraging the best students amongst the kids I coach to consider the new Westinghouse, but if not a single kid from their school can get in, I may have been setting up false hopes.

I am a bit overwhelmed at the task at hand, and can only say that we must persevere. Keep up the work and pushing in these areas, Arloa. Thanks for apprising us again of this situation.