Southern IL counties combat low SAT scores

SPARTA, IL (KFVS) - Hundred of schools in the state of Illinois are scoring lower than average on SATs. This includes several districts right here in the Heartland.

For teachers like Matthew Blair at Sparta High School in Randolph counties, education is his top priority for his students.

Despite his diligence as a teacher, the schools performance scores are not matching up.

Blair said, "We've recognized the problem, we know something has to be done. We've talked about how we can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results."

According to the Illinois State Board of Education SAT Performance Results Report, schools in Saline, Alexander, Pulaski and Randolph have scored under a 900-average on the SATs, which is considered below average.

While the Superintendent Dr. Gabe Schwimmer believes there is a slight achievement gap with minorities, but the real issue is access to resources.

"The achievement gap is not as much as a problem, it's across the board curriculum alignment, test preparation, and lack of resources.

In a junior math class at Sparta High School, the students are  working on their new one to one Chromebooks.They're working on a test prep program called the Khan Academy – just one of the many solutions to fix the low performance problem.

"We are doing the changes, we're implementing the one to one. We're implementing many other programs to try and address that problem head on, so I think we are heading in the right direction," Blair explained.

Even though Superintendent Schwimmer has been in her role for only four months, she has a serious goal to turn the school around.

"Change is hard. I know it makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but it's definitely something that's necessary to move these students forward and to develop our teacher skills. Sparta...we are there! We're right there. We just need a little push and we need some of those extra added resources," she said.

Some of the other programs the district is implementing to combat the performance results are: Khan Academy, Sparta University, Illinois Empower Pilot, MAP testing, and even Engage New York  Math and ELA curriculum.

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