Education and learning

'Disappointing' PARCC Test Scores From Illinois Students

Sep 16, 2015
Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The latest statewide tests results show that a vast majority of Illinois high school students are not meeting Common Core standards.

It was revealed today about 37 percent of students passed the Language Arts section. Fewer than 30 percent passed the math portion.

Results are based on the PARCC test, which is different from the old ISAT assessment.

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith is working to improve lower-than-average test scores.

U.S. Department of Education Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Illinois students will get a hint about how they scored on the PARCC test — the standardized test based on the Common Core — when statewide results are announced today. State officials have warned that scores will be lower than with previous tests. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it’s time for an honest assessment.

“It’s so important that we tell the truth to parents and to students about are they on track to be successful in college or not,” Duncan says. "And many states, including Illinois, dummy down those standards to make politicians look good.”  

Whooping Cough Case Identified At Auburn High School

Sep 15, 2015

Pertussis, or whooping cough, has made its presence into the Rockford public school district.

Last Friday, a letter was sent out regarding an Auburn High School student with a confirmed case of pertussis.

Families of West View Elementary and West Middle School also received letters about probable cases that have been reported.

Pertussis is easily mistaken as a bad cold, but its symptoms are more severe and can last up to 100 days.

NIU Enrollment Down, Retention Up

Sep 9, 2015

NIU’s enrollment has slightly declined this fall, while the university says retention and quality of students have increased. The university’s official 10-day count showed enrollment at 20,130 students. It represents the smallest dip in several years. 

Officials say NIU’s efforts to attract higher achieving students has paid off, as class rank, grade point average, and ACT scores have risen.

Eric Weldy is in charge of enrollment management at NIU. He spoke at a town hall meeting last week, telling staff there is fierce competition for students.

University of Wisconsin System

A University of Wisconsin-Madison fundraising drive that began last fall with a $100 million pledge has generated about $250 million.

Alumni John and Tashia Morgridge pledged last November to match up to $100 million in donations to fund endowments for faculty. UW officials announced Tuesday that more than 1,000 donors have responded with $125 million and the Morgridges have agreed to match that figure.

The Morgridges' donation is the largest in school history.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University leaders held a town hall meeting with employees yesterday to outline budget challenges. NIU President Doug Baker and top administrators talked about efforts to bring in more students and streamlining operations. They also answered questions about whether people will lose jobs under the state’s budget uncertainties.

New NIU Diversity Officer Wants To Support All Aspects

Aug 31, 2015

For the first time, Northern Illinois University has a diversity officer to help foster community and campus relations.

Vernese Edghill-Walden has experience; her dedication to the inclusion of students of diverse backgrounds makes her job an important one.

“I would like to make sure that the work that we’re doing with diversity inclusion aligns with the overall strategic plan,” she said.

Edghill-Walden says her job is to hear all the concerns and help create the desired outcome.  

Beloit College

It's that time again: A new crop of young people is entering colleges and universities around the world.

And, just as it has every summer since 1998, Beloit College is issuing its "Mindset List" to help define the factors that shaped those new freshmen -- or "first-years" or "freshies" or whatever new term may be applied by a given institution.

A researcher on national education issues came to central Illinois this week to give teachers a back-to-school pep talk and to give them ideas on how to improve kids' learning.


John Draper, a former middle school teacher and principal, works for the National School Public Relations Association. It's his job to tout neighborhood schools, and he did plenty of that in his presentation to Macon County teachers this week. 

N'Jema McIntyre / WNIJ

Scholars from Ecuador are wrapping up a seven month stay at Northern Illinois University. 

The 37 teachers came to the United States to study English.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is pushing the importance of higher standards for education. He is investing in teachers to build a better education system in his country. And that means sending teachers to the U.S.

“You have the best high education system in the world. So we have to learn a lot for the state in this subject.”