State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) assessed the state of education in Illinois in his legislative update, and according to the lawmaker, new test results from the 2021 student assessments issued by the Illinois State Board of Education earlier this month were opposite of Springfield’s intentions behind the billions of dollars invested in public schools.

An ISBE issued press release said that 16.6% fewer students met grade-level standards in English language arts in 2021 than two years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and 7.8% fewer students met grade-level standards in math.

“Unsurprisingly, declines were registered across the state with English-learner, Black, and disabled children showing the largest declines,” Caulkins said on his website.

He additionally pointed out that before the pandemic, just 33% of Illinois students performed at grade level, asserting that massive spending on education didn’t return any positive investment.

“These performance levels are unacceptable,” Caulkins said in the update. “As a state, total spending on public education approaches $40 billion dollars. For all that money spent, Illinois doesn’t have much to show for it compared to other states.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that school districts in low-income communities and their wealthier counterparts have declines in academic proficiency during the pandemic in common as revealed in the state’s 2021 student assessments. The data additionally showed that there are some Chicago high schools where no students met expectations in reading or math, and 20% of students across Illinois were deemed chronically absent during the previous academic year, the publication reported.

Alluding to the pandemic, the assessments reported that only 70% of students were administered the state exams, The Southern reported.

Citing a Wirepoints special report that distinguishes Illinois as the Midwest state that spends the most per student, Caulkins concluded that the expenditures did nothing to raise test scores.

“We have increased our spending between 2007 and 2019 more than any other state and yet, since 2007 our scores have flatlined,” he said.

The ISBE, in turn, focused on schools that achieved boosts in proficiency. The body recognized DuPage High School for increasing in meeting or exceeding standards on SAT reading by 13%.