Gov. Pritzker presented a very positive outlook last week when he and the Illinois State Board of Education released the state’s 2022 Illinois Report Card. The results show “great promise” Pritzker said, and he was “proud to see that our children have a bright future.”
But at Wirepoints we’ve analyzed the data and there’s little to cheer – not if overall reading and math proficiencies are anything to go by. The reality is Illinois needs an honest look at just how poorly the state has done with what matters most in education: ensuring Illinois’ students can read and do math at a level that ensures their success in the real world.
The fact is statewide student reading proficiency dropped again in 2022. The number of students reading at grade level declined to 29.9 for every 100 students in 2022, compared to 30.6 students for every 100 the previous year.
Importantly, the 2022 declines statewide are on top of the far larger proficiency losses Illinois students suffered in 2021 vs pre-Covid 2019. Wirepoints recently reported on those large losses, where drops in proficiency in reading and math neared 20 percent.
The losses were widespread compared to 2021, with more than 40 percent of the state’s 850 school districts experiencing a drop in reading proficiency. Chicago Public Schools was one of those districts, with only 20 of every 100 students able to read at grade level in 2022.
The poor findings by Wirepoints stand in stark contrast to the Pritzker administration’s attempts to spin the 2022 education data positively. Rather than soberly address the state’s low proficiency levels, especially for minorities and many large-city school districts, the governor deflected, calling the state’s “highest graduation rate in a decade,” the rapid “pace of student growth,” the hiring of 2,500 teachers and the state’s new “Equity Journey Continuum” great achievements.
Those claims ignore the reality on the ground. Even before Covid, Illinois’ math and reading results were dismal. They are far lower today.
Here are the facts Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education didn’t tell you about the 2022 Report Card:
1. Reading proficiency actually dropped in 2022.
Despite Gov. Pritzker and ISBE’s talk of “growth” and “improvement,” the reality is reading proficiency shrank in 2022 at both the elementary and high school levels.
The number of elementary school students reading at grade level fell to just 30.1 out of every 100 students in 2022. That’s compared to 30.2 students in 2021 and 37.8 students in 2019.
The decline for high school students was similar. The number of reading-proficient students fell to just 29.8 for every 100 students. That’s compared to 33 students in 2021 and 36.3 students in 2019.
What’s most concerning is the drop in reading proficiency among third-grade students. The ability to read in third grade is critical because if children can’t read by then, they’ll have real trouble learning science, social studies and civics in later years.
Third-grade proficiency fell another 2 percent in 2022. Today, only 27.4 out of every hundred third graders can read at grade level, down from an already-dismal 36.4 in 2019.
The reading proficiency levels for minority third-grade students are even more painful. Just 11.1 out of every 100 black students statewide can read at grade level. For Hispanics, it’s only 15.9 out of every 100 Hispanic third-graders.
2. Over 350 districts saw overall reading proficiency drop in 2022, including Chicago
In all, 354 districts saw their share of students who could read at grade level drop in 2022.
Chicago Public Schools was among them. Reading proficiency in CPS fell another 6.5 percent in 2022. Today, only 20 out of every hundred Chicago students can read at grade level, down from just 27 in 2019.
Broken down for the district’s minorities, just 11.2 out of every 100 black students in Chicago can read at grade level. For Hispanics, it’s just 16.9 out of every 100 Hispanic students.
Regarding math, Another 246 districts saw their student proficiencies drop again in 2022.
3. A “record high” graduation rate disguises the fact that most high schoolers can’t read at grade level.
Pritzker and ISBE’s proclaimed “record high” graduation rate means nothing when you look at high schoolers’ ability to read. In 2022, 87.3 percent of high schoolers graduated statewide, but only 29.8 percent of those who took the SAT were reading at grade level.
The numbers are even more distressing for Illinois’ minorities. Nearly 79 percent of black students graduated even though only 9.4 of every 100 were reading proficient on the SAT. And Hispanics had a 85 percent graduation rate, even though only 15.9 out of every 100 could read at grade level. Results for math are even worse.
There’s little reason to celebrate graduation rates when all it means is tens of thousands of Illinois children being pushed out of the education system while neither college nor career ready.
4. Over 86 percent of Illinois schools are labeled “Exemplary or “Commendable” despite the collapse in student proficiency.
Illinois’ “accountability” standards remain broken in 2022 and that includes the metric for school performance. Schools are given one of four designations by ISBE: exemplary, commendable, targeted and comprehensive.
As seen in the graphic below, 76 percent of Illinois schools were given the 2nd-highest rating of “commendable” despite the dramatically lower results in 2022.
That’s because a school’s “summative designation” is based not just on proficiency but “on multiple measures of school performance, including student growth for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools.” In other words, schools are graded on a curve.
That leads to absurd results where schools with single-digit reading proficiency scores are rated “commendable” by ISBE.
Take the Edna Rollins Elementary in Aurora East, for example. The school was rated “commendable” in 2022 despite the fact that only 2 percent of students at the entire school could read at grade level. Or consider Thornridge High of Thornton Township 205. The school also received a “commendable” rating despite just 5.8 percent of students there being reading proficient.
The examples shown above are far from alone. There are more than 700 Illinois schools rated “commendable” where less than 20 percent of all students are reading proficient. That’s incredibly misleading for any parent looking for information about the quality of their child’s school.
5. Illinois still lacks accountability for teachers: 97 percent were rated “excellent or proficient” in 2022.
Official teacher evaluations are also entirely out-of-sync with student outcomes. Despite just 29.9 percent of Illinois students being able to read at grade level in 2022, 97.2 percent of teachers were rated “excellent or proficient” that year.
That’s the same rating for teachers as in 2019 when student reading scores were almost 20 percent higher.
In fact, of the 607 districts that performed teacher evaluations in 2022, 362 of them – more than half – declared every single one of their teachers “excellent or proficient.”
6. ISBE’s proficiency and growth numbers don’t square up.
Two things we haven’t been able to square up. The first is related to Gov. Pritzker’s comments on student growth, that “every single demographic group in Illinois experienced accelerated growth in both English Language Arts and math, outpacing pre-pandemic levels.” The administration’s emphasis on “growth,” in light of the state’s worsening outcomes, should be covered in a separate piece.
Second, we found problems with ISBE’s overall proficiency numbers compared to their racial/ethnic breakdowns. You can see the discrepancy in the data below, taken directly from the 2021 and 2022 Report Card data sets.
Despite an overall 0.7 percentage point decline in reading proficiency in 2022, all major racial demographics – whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians (which comprise 96 percent of Illinois’ student population) – show proficiency increases. On its face, that’s mathematically impossible. Illinois’ statewide math proficiency data has the same issue.
Wirepoints contacted ISBE and asked them for clarification on the data, but as of this writing we have not received a response.
The results above expose the blatant hypocrisy of Illinois’ education system.
Illinois children can’t read and yet they’re graduating at record levels.
Illinois children can’t read and yet a vast majority of schools are labeled “exemplary” or “commendable.”
Illinois children can’t read and yet almost every single teacher in the state is evaluated as excellent or proficient.
And when it’s time to talk about results, there’s no honesty from our education system’s leaders. Illinois politicians and the teachers unions shouldn’t have monopoly control over our childrens’ education.
Guerilla gardening: how you can make your local area greener without getting into trouble
Many people are gardening on land that is not theirs – here are some things to consider to avoid getting into trouble.
When Richard Reynolds first started gardening around London’s streets, he was so worried he might be arrested that he worked under the cover of darkness. Reynolds was one of the UK’s first modern guerrilla gardeners, a movement that encourages people to nurture and revive land they do not have the legal rights to cultivate.
This issue is particularly pronounced among city dwellers, ethnic minorities and young people. A 2021 survey conducted in England revealed that those aged 16-24 were more than twice as likely to lack access to a garden or allotment compared to those aged over 65.
This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life.
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Guerrilla gardening is a particularly good option for these groups of people. It can involve planting herbs or vegetables for a whole community to enjoy, spreading seeds or plants, tidying weeds, or even something as simple as picking up litter.
But if you’re considering becoming a guerilla gardener, it’s important to understand your rights. Could you be arrested for it? And should you wait until after dark?
Can you be prosecuted?
It’s important to remember that much of the unused or abandoned land that is potentially suitable for guerilla gardening in towns and cities throughout the UK is owned by local councils. Common examples of such locations include broken pavements with missing slabs, wasteland and the central areas of roundabouts.
Although much of this land is already open for the public to walk over, actively gardening on it would become an act of trespass.
The law of trespass sounds scary. However, gardening on this land would be a breach of civil law rather than a crime. This means that most guerrilla gardeners are unlikely to receive a fine or a criminal record.
Landowners do have the legal right to use “reasonable force” to remove trespassers from their land. But, fortunately, it seems most councils have ignored guerrilla gardeners, having neither the time, money or inclination to bring legal action against them.
Colchester Council, for example, were unable to track down the identity of the “human shrub”, a mysterious eco-activist who restored the flowers in the city’s abandoned plant containers in 2009. The shrub returned again in 2015 and sent a gift of seeds to a local councillor.
In other areas of the UK, the work of guerilla gardeners has been cautiously welcomed by local councils. In Salford, a city in Greater Manchester, there is a formal requirement to submit an application and obtain permission to grow on vacant spots in the city. But the local authority tends not to interfere with illegal grow sites.
There seems to be an unwritten acceptance that people can garden wherever they want, given the abundance of available space and the lack of active maintenance. This also offers the additional advantage of saving both time and money for the local council.
You should still be careful about where you trespass though. In some areas, guerrilla gardening can lead to unwelcome attention. During the May Day riots of 2000, for example, guerrilla gardeners were accused of planting cannabis seeds in central London’s Parliament Square.
Gardening at night may draw the wrong attention too, particularly if you are carrying gardening tools that might be misunderstood by the police as threatening weapons.
How can you start?
There are many different types of guerrilla gardening that you could get involved in, from planting native plant species that benefit pollinators and other wildlife to tidying derelict land to create safer places for the local community.
One of the simplest forms of guerilla gardening is planting seeds. Some environmental projects circulate “seed bombs” and others use biodegradable “seed balloons” that are filled with helium and deflate after a day, distributing seeds by air.
Whatever you try, as a guerrilla gardener you shouldn’t harm the environment or spoil other people’s enjoyment of the space around you. Remember that weeds and wilderness have an environmental value too. And think carefully about the species you are going to plant so that you can protect local plants and wildlife.
The most attractive species to humans might not provide the best home or food for wildlife. Some can even outcompete native plants and drive them towards extinction. Planting certain harmful, invasive or poisonous species like ragwort, knotweed or Himalayan balsam is even prohibited by law.
That said, some guerrilla gardeners have used social media to organise “balsam bashing” events, where people come together to pull up this harmful invasive plant.
Guerrilla gardening takes many forms and can bring great benefits for people and the environment. You’re unlikely to be arrested for planting and growing trees and other greenery in public spaces. But remember that these spaces should be shared with everyone, including your local wildlife.
Ben Mayfield does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.uk
Fractyl Health’s GLP-1 gene therapy spurs 25% weight loss in obese mice, clinical trials slated for 2024
One of the biggest problems facing the burgeoning class of weight loss drugs is that people must take them day after day, week after week. When the injections…
One of the biggest problems facing the burgeoning class of weight loss drugs is that people must take them day after day, week after week. When the injections of semaglutide — the ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy — stop coming, so do the benefits. Lost weight is regained.
But researchers at Fractyl Health, a Lexington, MA-based biotech, believe they have a solution to that problem: a one-time gene therapy injected into the pancreas that lets the body make its own GLP-1 agonists in perpetuity.
New data slated to be presented today at a diabetes conference in Germany suggest that obese mice injected with the therapy lost nearly 25% of their body weight after just two weeks, according to a copy of the company’s presentation obtained by Endpoints News.
The results leave many questions unanswered, including how safe and effective the approach will be beyond the first two weeks, although the presentation indicated that such studies are ongoing. Fractyl declined requests for an interview.
The company previously announced plans to begin testing the treatment in people with diabetes and obesity in 2024. It’s a bold step towards moving gene therapy beyond the rare diseases typically pursued by biotech companies.
“It’s hard to get people to take injections once a week, and if we can figure out how to do something closer to one and done, that would be a big step for patients,” Randy Seeley, who directs an obesity research center at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, told Endpoints in an interview.
“But how permanent this will be can’t really be answered in a mouse,” he added. Seeley is a consultant to Fractyl, and the company supports research in his lab.
Fractyl was originally just developing the GLP-1 gene therapy for type 2 diabetes. In a diabetic mouse model, human pancreatic islets and human beta cell lines, the treatment significantly enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, improving blood sugar levels.
GLP-1 needs to act on receptors in the brain for its weight loss effects, and since the therapy is injected directly into the pancreas, the company didn’t expect the diabetic mice would lose weight, Seeley said. But surprisingly, they did, shedding 23% of their mass after four weeks compared to a control group.
Those results spurred the company to test its gene therapy in a diet-induced obesity mouse model. Twenty mice were fed a high fat diet for 25 weeks before half of them got a single injection of the gene therapy while the other half received daily injections of semaglutide.
Both groups of mice began losing weight a day after the injections. Within five days, the mice who got the gene therapy were losing weight faster and shed 24.8% of their body weight after just two weeks, even as they maintained their high fat diet. The mice on semaglutide lost 18.4% of their weight, according to the data presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Scientific Congress.
“The most surprising part of the data is how much weight these animals lose,” Seeley said. “it’s better than semaglutide, and it’s not exactly clear how that occurs.”
Given the uncertain long-term effects of taking GLP-1 drugs for weight loss, a potentially permanent gene therapy approach is sure to raise many questions.
“If you’re taking your once-a-week version, if something goes wrong, we can turn it off and we just take it away,” Seeley said. “But with gene therapy, there’s no way to turn it off. It’s unknown what happens, and so it is going to take both some careful thought.”fed congress treatment testing clinical trials therapy european germany
Trans To Be Banned From Female Hospital Wards In UK
Trans To Be Banned From Female Hospital Wards In UK
Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,
The UK Health Secretary is to issue a proposal…
The UK Health Secretary is to issue a proposal to ban trans patients from female hospital wards in the UK, as well as reinstating ‘sex specific’ language in National Health Service materials, according to reports.
The Daily Mail reports that “Steve Barclay will unveil the plans to push back against ‘wokery’ in the health service amid concerns that women’s rights are being sidelined.”
Daily Mail: "Trans women patients 'to be banned from female wards' under plans to be announced by Health Secretary Steve Barclay today"https://t.co/dPU9wbKEZL— Emily Wilding Davison (@Wommando) October 3, 2023
The proposal would see only people of the same biological sex sharing wards, with care coming from doctors and nurses of the same sex, when it comes to intimate health matters.
“We need a common-sense approach to sex and equality issues in the NHS. That is why I am announcing proposals for clearer rights for patients,” Barlcay stated, adding “It is vital that women’s voices are heard in the NHS and the privacy, dignity and safety of all patients are protected.”
He added “And I can confirm that sex-specific language has now been fully restored to online health advice pages about cervical and ovarian cancer and the menopause.”
As we previously highlighted, the word ‘women’ was removed from such materials and replaced with non-gendered terms to be “more inclusive”:
A source close to the Health Secretary told the Telegraph that “The Secretary of State is fed up with this agenda and the damage it’s causing, language like “chestfeeding”, talking about pregnant “people” rather than women. It exasperates the majority of people, and he is determined to take action.”
“He is concerned that women’s voices should be heard on healthcare and that too often wokery and ideological dogma is getting in the way of this,” the source added.
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