For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018 Illinois Report Card shows more students than ever enrolling in college

​New designation for every school drives resources to students in the greatest need

​SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today released the 2018 Illinois Report Card at The 2018 data show the highest percentage of students enrolling in college since Illinois began reporting the metric in 2014. The percentage of students enrolling in college 12 months after graduation increased to nearly three-quarters of all graduates – up from 68.7 percent just four years ago. 

The data also show record numbers of students both taking and passing Advanced Placement exams. More than 2,000 additional students took more than 6,500 additional Advanced Placement exams in 2018 compared to in 2017, while maintaining Illinois' high pass rate at approximately 66 percent. From 2017 to 2018, enrollment in career and technical education increased by more than 6,000 students to 283,473. The percent of graduates needing to take remedial courses at Illinois community colleges continued to decline from 46.8 percent in 2017 to 45.7 percent in 2018. 

“The positive trends in college and career readiness show so much is going right in our schools," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We are also laser focused on providing and advocating for resources and supports for the schools that need them the most. We have radically more fair funding and support systems in place to build on the enormous teaching and leading talent in our schools. We have high expectations for our students, and we know that each and every student can meet them. In the midst of a statewide teacher shortage crisis, we are working hand in glove with lawmakers to get schools the resources and fully supported educators they need to improve." 

The 2018 Illinois Report Card shows that Illinois' student population has become increasingly diverse. Students of color comprise a majority of Illinois' students, while the percentage of teachers who identify as white has held constant at approximately 83 percent. ISBE recently approved legislative recommendations to expand, better support, and diversify the state's highly qualified teacher workforce. 

The state's new support and accountability system for all schools launches with the 2018 Illinois Report Card. As part of the new system, each school's Report Card includes a designation—a descriptor of how well the school is meeting the needs of all students. The designation is based on 10 measures of performance, including student growth for schools up to eighth grade. The designation provides transparency for families and communities and identifies the highest-need schools to receive additional supports through the IL-EMPOWER school improvement process. 

“The designations are facts, not judgments," said Smith. “The purpose of the designation is to drive resources to the students in the greatest need. No single data point can capture what makes a school great. We encourage schools to use the designation as a tool to communicate about strengths and challenges and to engage communities and stakeholders in the success of all students." 

The Exemplary designation identifies the highest-performing 10 percent of schools. The Lowest-Performing designation identifies the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. Schools where most students are performing well but where one or more student groups is significantly underperforming receive the Underperforming designation. All other schools receive the Commendable designation. Approximately 70 percent of schools received the Commendable designation, and approximately 15 percent received the Underperforming designation on the 2018 Illinois Report Card. 

Schools with the Underperforming or Lowest-Performing designation participate in the IL-EMPOWER improvement process, which begins with a school-led needs assessment to identify local priorities in the areas of Governance & Management, Curriculum & Instruction, and Climate & Culture. The process includes additional federal funding, ISBE school support managers, and the school's choice of vetted professional learning partners to work with on local improvement needs. View a series of infographics on the new support and accountability system at

The 2018 Illinois Report Card also shows each district's Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) tier and amount. The state overhauled its primary funding formula in 2017 to send more state funding to the districts in the greatest financial need. A district's percentage of adequacy compares its actual funding to what the EBF statute defines as full funding for that specific district. Tier 1 districts have the lowest state funding compared to what they need, and Tier 4 districts have full funding or more than full funding. 

View a glossary of terms on the Illinois Report Card at