State Testing Begins Soon in District 205; Expect Fewer Students to Meet, Exceed Standards
State Board of Education increased cut scores for ISAT, but ISAT soon will be replaced by a new, rigorous evaluation system to determine college readiness.
Some parents of District 205 elementary and middle school students may be surprised to see a drop in their children's results on the Illinois Standard Achievement Tests they will take two weeks from now.
As a result of changes made by the Illinois State Board of Education last month, some students' scores will shift downward from the "exceeds state standards" bracket to "meets state standards," some may drop from "meets" to "below standards" and still others could drop from "below standards" to "academic warning."
The scores are released to parents in the fall.
ISBE on Jan. 24 approved increased "cut scores" used in determining whether students meet state standards, Charles Sprandel, District 205's director of research, assessment and quality analysis, told the School Board last week.
"There was an inequity in terms of reporting that caused an invalid system. The state has finally addressed this and is resetting cut scores," Sprandel said.
Of the eighth-graders who took the ISAT tests two years ago, just less than 90 percent met or exceeded state standards. Only about 50 percent of those same students met or exceeded state standards on the Prairie State Achivement Exam in high school, he said. Raising all cut scores will bring down performance levels on ISAT so they match up with PSAE.
While more students will end up in the "academic warning" and "below standards" categories, Sprandel said the impact on District 205 will be "relatively small."
"We typically have more kids achieving at high levels than at low levels," he said.
In reading, for example, District 205 can expect an average decrease of about 11 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards, while the statewide decrease will be about 20 percent, he said. In math, district results will show a 14 percent decrease in students meeting or exceeding standards, but statewide it probably will decrease about 26 percent.
These scores also are used to determine whether a school district will make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Last year, 85 percent of students needed to meet or exceed standards for a district to achieve AYP. This year, it's 92.5 percent.
"It's very unlikely any of our elementary or middle schools will make AYP this year" unless Illinois is granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, Sprandel said.
"The irony to it all is that we're nearing the sunset of No Child Left Behind," Sprandel said. "Nearly all schools will fail to reach AYP."
For a video presentation about the new cut scores, click here.
So, what happens next?
Illinois, along with 45 other states, has adopted Common Core Standards. The result has been "significant curricular changes" in reading and math in District 205. Full implementation of the new standards is expected in 2014-15.
The ISBE released the following statement with regard to Common Core Standards and the new ISAT cut scores:
Schools have begun implementing the Common Core State Standards, a multi-state initiative that established year-by-year guidelines outlining the grade-specific skills and content our students need to stay on the path to college and career readiness. Therefore, we must adjust the performance levels on the ISAT for Math and English Language Arts to better align with the more rigorous standards of the Common Core and give teachers and parents better, more timely information about a student’s progress toward post-secondary success.
The new, more rigorous standards also pave the way for the state to replace the ISAT with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests in 2014-15.
Dr. Charles Johns, Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction, explained PARCC in a December 2012 report. He said the standards were developed by some 1,500 K-12 teachers and more than 750 institutions of higher education, which are working to create the high school assessments and determine a college-ready cut score.
PARCC will be offered at least twice a year and possibly four times a year, he said. Components include assessments to help educators make “college- and career-readiness” and “on-track” determinations; provide data to the state for accountability purposes; inform instruction, intervention and professional development during the school year; and assess students’ speaking and listening skills.
Unlike years past, the new assessment will allow parents to evaluate schools and districts based on the amount of growth students achieved.
For more information on the new ISAT cut scores and the transition to the PARCC assessment, visit the ISBE website.