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Not many Illinois students graduate high school prepared for the future

When it comes to Illinois' public education system, there is much room for improvement, based on the findings of nonprofit Advance Illinois' recently released report, titled "The State We're In: A Report Card on Public Education in Illinois."

According to the data, only 33 percent of students complete the fourth grade proficient in reading, while the same share of pupils complete eighth grade ready for the level of coursework they will encounter in high school. Even more troubling is that only 27 percent of teenagers graduate from high school with the types of skills they will require in college and the workforce.

"Our schools are not getting the majority of students where they need to go," Advance Illinois officials wrote in the report. "Not only do we not keep pace with other states, we are losing ground with other nations. We cannot afford to be a below-average state in a below-average country - while the economy becomes increasingly global. It is not sustainable."

While conditions in Illinois' public schools are poor at this time, the transition to the Common Core State Standards may be able to turn things around. The Standards, which were adopted by Illinois in 2010, are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and throughout their careers.