School Quality

Desired Trend

Up

Current Trend

Baseline (2016): 55.3%
Current: Unavailable

Theme Educated

Definition

Percent of third grade public school students who meet or exceed reading proficiency standards

Why is it Important?

Good schools are essential aspects of a sustainable community because they educate youth and strengthen the local economy. There are many ways to define and measure school quality, but one important measure is third grade reading proficiency. The third grade is a critical turning point for reading because that’s when curriculum shifts from students learning to read to students reading to learn. Students who are not proficient in reading by this point are much more likely to struggle and are four times more likely to drop out of high school.1

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires states to test students in grades three to eight every year for reading and math. Each state may establish their own test and proficiency standards, which can make comparisons between states impractical. In 2009, the National Governors Association developed the Common Core State Standards to make comparisons between states possible. Since then, Missouri and Illinois have both adopted and implemented tests that align with these standards. Illinois first implemented tests aligned with Common Core standards in 2014, and Missouri began implementation in 2015.2

While the goal of the Common Core State Standards is to make test results comparable, there are still different tests that align with these standards. In 2015, Missouri used tests from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, while Illinois used tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Because tests in Missouri and Illinois are different, their results are not comparable. In addition, in 2016, Missouri switched to an internally developed test. As a result, it is not possible to compare Missouri’s 2016 test results with results from previous years.3 

How are we Doing?

In the St. Louis region, 55.3 percent of third grade public school students met or exceeded reading proficiency standards in 2016. While both states implemented Common Core Standards in 2015 and in 2016, each state offered a different test, and therefore the results are not comparable.

In 2016, 61.6 percent of third graders in the Missouri portion of the region scored proficient or higher in reading. Reading scores for the Missouri portion of the St. Louis region are slightly higher than scores for the entire state (58.1 percent). This is similar to what was seen prior to the adoption of Common Core in 2015. From 2010 to 2014, the region’s proficiency in reading was 3 to 4 percent higher than proficiency across the state and in 2015 the average score for the region was 6.8 percent higher than the overall score for Missouri . 

In the Illinois portion of the region, 34.0 percent of third graders met or exceeded the state’s reading standards in 2016. This was up slightly from 33.8 percent in 2015 (in Illinois the same test was used in both years). Reading scores in the Illinois portion of the region have been below the state average since 2013 after the state implemented the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). In 2015, the state began using tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Since then, scores in the Illinois portion of the region have been between 3 and 4 percent lower than the average score for the state.

While data is limited on testing scores by race, what is available shows a wide gap between the average scores of white and black students. In 2016, 67.3 percent of white students scored proficient or higher in third grade reading tests in the Missouri side of the region, while only 16.9 percent of black students scored proficient or higher. Data is not available to calculate scores by race for the Illinois side of the region.

Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.

Notes

1 Hernandez, Donald, Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012; accessed on 4 February 2014 at http://gradelevelreading.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Double-Jeopardy-Report-030812-for-web1.pdf

2Common Core State Standards Initiative. Development Process. 2017. Accessed January 23, 2017. http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/development-process/

3The state tests for this indicator are the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). The statistic includes students in Illinois who “meet” or “exceed” the third grade reading standard and students in Missouri who score “proficient” or “advanced”.

Data Sources

Illinois State Board of Education and Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education