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Coal City students perform well on state report card

The Coal City Community Unit School District 1 Board of Education took a close look at the 2019 Illinois Report Card test results during its regular meeting.

Tammy Elledge, the district’s director of curriculum, presented her view of the state of the district’s academics to the board on Dec. 4.

“I am very pleased with how we did overall,” she said. Elledge said Coal City students perform well in math and English language arts.

“I think we were happy about the improvements in math at the middle school,” Elledge said. “It’s an area that we weren’t performing very well. We made a lot of changes. We were happy to see that was reflected.”

Elledge said the district tried a combination of measures to improve the math outcomes presented in the state report card.

“We doubled the time students were spending in mathematics,” she said. “Our students in middle school had math every single day for an extended block of time. They spend as much time in mathematics as they do English language arts. We purchased new resources. We added more math teachers.”

The district has been keeping tabs on how it compares to neighboring districts of similar profiles, which Elledge said is important.

“We weren’t performing as well as some of our counterpoints, so we put a lot of effort into middle school in mathematics,” she said. “We finally saw that reflected this year. It worked very well.”

It remains unclear if the changes in mathematics will lead to improvements at the high school, but Elledge said she hopes the success translates well.

“This is the first year we’ve really seen that as the middle school level,” she said. “It will be some time before we see that measured. We don’t really measure the ninth and 10th graders at the high school.”

As far as English language arts, the district has performed well historically, officials said. Elledge said this holds especially true at the eighth-grade level.

The Illinois Report Card shows 80.3% of district’s students are meeting or exceeding expectation set forth by the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, which measures readiness for the next grade level and course. This figure nearly doubles the state average of 39.6% for students in eighth-grade English language arts, the state report card shows.

The report also shows 70.7% of all the district’s students were proficient in science, while the state average is 48.3%.

Elledge credits the district’s favorable state report card test results to several factors.

“We have a strong curriculum and instruction,” she said. “We have tremendous department leaders who contribute to our success. … We put structure in place and our teachers can be successful. Obviously, the teachers are doing the heavy lifting. The teachers are the ones in the trenches making it happen, but I think the department leaders are the ones creating that structure that all the teachers have.”

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