SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Thursday's release of "report cards" on school performance will show a drop in the percentage of students passing the Illinois Standards Achievement test last school year.
But that doesn't mean teaching or student performance has actually fallen. Rather, the decline in scores is a result of the state board of education's decision to toughen the grading scale for grade schools so it matches that used by high schools.
This year, only 62 of 863 districts achieved growth benchmarks set under federal No Child Left Behind law, down from 152 last year.
But if the old scoring method were still in use, more students would actually have made gains.
The change is part of the state's preparation to adopt more rigorous learning standards in the 2014-2015 school year.