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‘Students are moving in the right direction’

Putnam County’s 2018 Illinois Report Card results released

Carl Carlson
Putnam County School superintendent
Carl Carlson Putnam County School superintendent

GRANVILLE — The Illinois State Board of Education has released the 2018 Illinois Report Card information for the Putnam County School District. Each of the district’s four schools earned a “Commendable” designation.

Commendable schools are those that have no underperforming student groups, a graduation rate greater than 67 percent (Putnam County has an 85 percent graduation rate), and whose performance is not in the top 10 percent statewide.

Funding for PC schools is at 93 percent of the state’s target minimum needed to provide a high-quality education.

“The changes in funding for schools haven’t affected our district as much as it may have for other districts,” Superintendent Carl Carlson said.

“We’re so close to our adequacy target at 93 percent that we don’t see a large amount of additional new dollars flowing. We continue to responsibly utilize our local capacity to offer the best programming we can for our students,” he said.

Carlson said the district’s administrative team reviews the results each year so they can then assess the next steps needed for improvements. This year the ISBE expanded the number of indicators used to demonstrate a deeper look into each district’s success. Some traditional indicators, such as the PARCC testing for grades 3-8, shows mixed results.

“Our district philosophy is to look at the top three categories, which include meeting, exceeding, and approaching. When you view that numerically across the subjects and grade levels, we’re at or above the state average in numerous areas,” Carlson said.

For example, grade 11 SAT results show that using all three categories in the English Language Arts that PC is at 78 percent versus the 75 percent state average. In Grade 11 SAT Math, PC is at 64 percent versus the 66 percent state average.

Eighty-two percent of PC graduates are enrolled in either a two- or four-year college within 16 months of their graduation.

“This demonstrates students are moving in the right direction and showing growth annually. This also reaffirms the time spent on curriculum review, collaborating with staff across grade levels, monitoring data over the course of the year, and providing a rigorous curriculum are all important components,” Carlson said.

He added a critical factor that often gets overlooked is student engagement while being assessed.

“It’s very important all our students continue to give their best effort so we get an accurate measurement,” he said.

He also pointed out the reason that PC’s “9th Grade on Track” statistic shows a lower rating than last year. Each year the state uploads data from each student management system and translates that information into statistics.

“Unfortunately, the state pulled this information from our system, but it was translated improperly due to confusion on the number of credits earned each semester. The current report card shows our rate at 78 percent, but realistically when comparing actual credits earned, our number is 86 percent ‘on track,’ which is right on pace with the state average,” Carlson said.

He added that Putnam County takes a team approach in providing the best possible educational opportunities for students, and that there are a lot of moving parts to coordinate in raising student achievement levels.

“This ranges from student and parental support of the schools, the administration and staff continually analyzing our curriculum to maintain high expectations and rigor to provide the necessary supports along the way, and ultimately the celebration of success.” he said.

The average class size in Putnam County is 15 students, lower than the statewide average of 20 per class. The local district has a 2018 enrollment of 288 students, which is only one less than in 2014.

Of those students, 36.5 percent are in families receiving public aid, living in substitute care, or eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches. This is a 3 percentage point increase from 2014, but lower than the state average of 49 percent.

PC students are also more physically active than those statewide. Local students receive 5 days a week of physical education compared to the state’s average of only 3 days per week.

Fifteen percent of PC students receive special education and individualized education programs.

“The one philosophy I like to share, when asked to examine or provide feedback on these types of statistics, is that our students are more than just a number. There’s always a deeper story behind that number. We want to make sure students understand the importance and need to be actively involved in their learning,” Carlson said.

The local district has 69 full-time educators. 62.3 percent of those have a bachelor’s degree and 37.7 percent have earned a master’s degree or higher; 98 percent have been rated by the state as “proficient” or “excellent.”

The average number of students per teacher in PC is 15:1, lower than the state average of 19:1. The certified staff to student ratio in the PC District is 8:1.

Putnam County offers its students 22 academic courses, 13 career development courses or programs, and 15 athletic programs.

“Based on our overall results, I’m extremely pleased with the efforts of everyone involved. As a school district, we’ll continue to work at improving our educational service that prepares our students with the ability to be competitive and successful,” Carlson said.

For more information about the Illinois Report Card, visit www.illinoisreportcard.com. 

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