School Testing Gaps

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- New education statistics show a troubling problem in Illinois -- a sharp drop in performance between elementary school and high school.

In some places, the percentage of students meeting basic standards drops by nearly 40 points.

An Associated Press analysis of statewide testing data shows this "achievement gap" between younger and older students in all 102 Illinois counties -- and it's getting larger.

For the 2006-2007 school year, there was a difference of nearly 28 percentage points in the average results for elementary students versus high school students. That's up from 24 points the year before.

Experts offer a variety of explanations but generally agree that the gap is a serious problem.

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Educators have many reasons for lagging high school test performance

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Educators and experts offer plenty of explanations for the performance gap between elementary and high school students in Illinois.

An Associated Press analysis of new state testing data shows a sharp drop in performance for older children.

The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards last year was 28 points lower for high school juniors than for elementary students.

Some high school students say they're not motivated to do well on parts of the two-day test that don't affect their college options.

A major teachers union and some administrators say high school tests sometimes ask questions about material that students haven't covered in class.

A national think tank says Illinois' test standards in math are too low for elementary students.

And some say schools are so focused on teaching test-covered material at lower grades that students don't get the critical thinking skills they need later on.

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