Advance Illinois said the state's K-12 program gets a C- but that's a better grade than they gave the public schools two year ago. Group leaders said not enough students are meeting key milestones during their grade school years.
School leaders we spoke with say they've faced more challenges in the past decade than ever before. That includes having to do more with less. Paxton-Buckley-Loda superintendent Cliff McClure said they're putting their students first regardless of what third-party groups say.
"You have to begin at preschool," said McClure. "We're providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum in order to have kids college ready and also vocational ready."
Other school leaders we spoke with said they can't take each independent critique too seriously. That's because there are so many of them. But they do look at these results as a way to see what they can improve on for the future.
Advance Illinois says the state's schools are improving overall but it's just taking time. School leaders said that's their goal anyway.