For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Illinois charts historic increases in access to rigorous college and career preparation courses

​2019 Illinois Report Card includes school-level spending for the first time ever

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released the 2019 Illinois Report Card today at The 2019 data show historic increases in students taking and succeeding in rigorous college and career preparation courses – representing four years of continuous growth and reflecting Illinois' investments in equity and opportunity.

Illinois now has its most racially and linguistically diverse student population in recent history, which amplifies its gains.

“Illinois has focused intensively on college and career readiness for all students," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Illinois' gains demonstrate that each and every child can succeed when provided the rigor, resources, and academic and social-emotional supports they need. I am proud of Illinois' students and educators and energized for the future of Illinois' schools."

Governor JB Pritzker's fiscal year 2020 budget included an additional $375 million for Evidence-Based Funding, which largely goes to the least well-funded school districts.

The 2019 Illinois Report Card offers a new look at where dollars go within a district. The Illinois Report Card displays spending at the school level for the first time ever. Exploring this new level of financial data​ in context can deepen understanding of equity in Illinois and of the relationships between spending, student characteristics, and student outcomes.

School districts across Illinois have invested new Evidence-Based Funding in educators – hiring additional teachers, social workers, and counselors; reducing class sizes; and investing in professional development. Teacher diversity, retention, and attendance, as well as the total number of teachers in the state, showed slight upticks in 2019. ISBE remains committed to strengthening the teacher pipeline and profession so all students have an effective educator in every class, every day.

Gains in College and Career Readiness

Career and technical education programs enrolled 284,680 students in 2019 – an increase of nearly 5,000 students since 2016 – despite declining student enrollment in Illinois' schools overall. Governor Pritzker's FY 2020 budget included the first increase in state funding for career and technical education in five years.

Students in the 10th through 12th grades took a combined 169,217 dual credit, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate courses in 2019 – approximately 10,000 more than in 2016 when data collection began. Students recorded the highest-ever pass rates on AP Exams, even with the expansion in access among historically underrepresented student groups. Governor Pritzker's FY 2020 budget included $2.5 million for AP Exam fee waivers for students with limited resources and grants for schools to develop and implement AP courses.

The 2019 Illinois Report Card also marks the fourth consecutive year that the percentage of students needing to enroll in remedial courses at Illinois' community colleges has declined. Illinois lawmakers enacted the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act in 2016 to strengthen pathways from eighth grade all the way through high school and onto college and career.

Strong National Comparison

Illinois' educational achievements compare strong nationally.

Eleventh-grade students' mean SAT scores in both reading/writing and mathematics compare to or exceed those of Michigan and Colorado, two other states with universal SAT administration. Illinois this year began providing the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 to all students in the ninth and 10th grades, respectively, to further prepare students for success on the 11th-grade college admissions exam.

The Illinois Report Card will include National Assessment of Educational Progress results from 2017. The National Center for Education Statistics will release 2019 data on Oct. 30. An early view of the results showed Illinois' performance held steady in 2019, while 31 other states saw a significant decline in eighth-grade reading, and 17 other states saw a significant decline in fourth-grade reading.

Illinois' graduation rate also held steady. Data from 2017, the most recent year available of national graduation rates, shows Illinois ranking in the top half of all states.

Illinois' measure of ninth-graders on track to graduate held steady in 2019 as well. Illinois schools will continue to boost graduation rates by actively intervening with ninth-graders at risk of falling off track and providing individualized supports and interventions. Research from the University of Chicago shows students who have earned at least five full-year course credits and have earned no more than one semester “F" in a core course at the end of ninth grade are almost four times as likely to graduate from high school as students who are not on track.

Accountability Powered by Growth

Schools received annual accountability designations for the second year in 2019. Schools with the Lowest-Performing or Underperforming designations enter a four-year improvement cycle supported by additional federal funding and other state assistance.

The individual stories of the state's nearly 4,000 public schools power the story of the Illinois Report Card. The student growth percentile, a new measure debuted on the Illinois Report Card in 2018, allows schools to showcase progress in student learning, even if students have not yet reached proficiency. The measure compares the growth of students at a school to other students in the state who started at the same level of performance.

Individual schools and districts in Illinois have remarkable stories of growth as the result of multi-year improvement efforts, such as:

  • Carbondale Elementary School District 95, where students in all demographic groups grew above the 50th percentile in English language arts and near the 50th percentile in math, increasing the accountability designations of all four schools.
  • Queen Bee School District 16, where students in all demographic groups grew between the 68th and 73rd percentiles in English language arts and above the 50th percentile in math, which resulted in one school performing among the top 10 percent of all schools in the state and earning the Exemplary designation.  
  • Gordon Bush Elementary School in East St. Louis School District 189, where students grew above the 55th percentile in English language arts and above the 59th percentile in math, rising from among the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state to earning the Commendable designation.

Find the 2019 Illinois Report Card at and resources, such as a glossary of terms and other fact sheets, at​