The Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday signed off on goals outlined by new superintendent Tony Smith.

“We believe that every child in Illinois who attends a public school system deserves to be in a place where 90 percent or more of the fifth-grade students meet or exceed expectations in mathematics, where 90 percent or more of students are on track to graduate with their class at the end of ninth grade,” Smith told board members.

Smith said some school districts would think 90 percent is not a high enough goal, as if anybody “deserves” to be in the other ten percent.

The new chairman of the school board lauded Smith and his vision – and his desire for accountability.

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“It was his recommendation” to specify 90 percent standards, says Rev. James Meeks during Wednesday's goal-setting retreat in Springfield. “He and his team here are saying to us, this is what we are going to work on every day when you guys aren't here, so when you guys come back here, we can report to you where we are on the goals that you charged us with.”

Another takeaway: one of the most important things a graduating high school senior can take to college is some college credit earned during high school.

This all came during a meeting at which Smith delivered what are described as early, prelimiinary – and disappointing – results of the PARCC test so far.


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