(The Center Square) – A report by the Illinois State Board of Education shows there is progress in student’s recovery from the pandemic, but chronic absenteeism still persists.
The annual 2023 Illinois Report Card provides a snapshot of academic achievement, along with student and teacher information.
The state board collects data on a range of academic and student success metrics and then assigns schools one of five categories according to their performance. Those in the lowest-performing three categories receive assistance and funding to improve their outcomes.
Officials reported increased proficiency rates and the highest graduation rate in 13 years. However, proficiency rates remain below pre-pandemic levels and chronic absenteeism remains alarmingly high.
“This year, we see a 5% improvement in chronic absenteeism which is good news, it is headed in the right direction. Still, nearly 30% of students were chronically absent in Illinois last year,” state Superintendent of Education Tony Sanders said.
The numbers were higher with Black students at 42%, and with Hispanics at 34.5%.
ISBE has dedicated $12 million to Regional Offices of Education to combat absenteeism and more than $100 million for Community Partnership Grants that are designed to improve mental health.
Officials touted the fact that the class of 2023 achieved the highest high school graduation rate in 13 years at 87.6%, driven by gains for Black and Hispanic students, whose four-year graduation rate increased by 4.7% and 4%, respectively.
Illinois schools enrolled greater numbers of English learners and more Hispanic, Asian and multiracial students in the 2022-23 school year than in the year prior, despite an overall declining enrollment trend. The number of English learners increased by 6.5% since 2022 to 271,983 students, the biggest jump in five years. The state has seen an influx of migrants from the southern U.S. border, with nearly 20,000 arriving to the state since August of last year.
Total state spending per student increased from the prior year from around $16,000 to nearly $18,000.
ISBE has been producing the report card for every district and school since 1986, and the report card for the state as a whole since 2002.