DISTRICT ISAT SCORES LIKELY TO DROP AS TEST AND CUT SCORES CHANGE
In 2014-2015, Illinois will switch from the ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) to a new standardized test based on the Common Core standards. ISAT is the way the state measures student progress and school compliance to the No Child Left Behind Act and forms the basis of the annual Illinois School Report Card.
As a transitional step, Illinois will score the upcoming ISATs (conducted in March) using new cut scores that reflect a stiffer grading scale; about 20% of the 2013 ISATs will be Common Core material. The state has forewarned districts that their scores will drop, and has advised them to start letting their communities know to expect that.
In addition, the state is rescoring the 2012 ISATS (last year's) against these new cut scores and will give districts an analysis of school-level results (schools will not receive the scores of individual students). When graded against the new cut scores, the district's 2012 ISAT performance is expected to drop in several ways: the overall percentage of meets and exceeds combined; the percentage of exceeds (it could be that the "meets" category increases at the expense of the "exceeds" category); and the percentage of students in the "below" or "academic warning" categories.
These new expectations do not mean that students know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. Instead, the state is saying that current standards are too low and that it is expecting more of students going forward to show their progress toward college and career-readiness benchmarks.
According to a communication from Illinois Superintendent of Schools Chris Koch, "These higher expectations will result in a significant reduction in the number of students who meet and exceed standards. Parents, board members, teachers and community members will likely be concerned to learn that students who previously were meeting standards are now characterized as needing improvement. It is important that we are able to explain that this is a result of changing standards and not a reflection of decreased performance by our students and teachers."
District 41 has begun implementing the Common Core for math and literacy; these standards outline the skills and content our students must master at each grade level to continue on the path to college and career readiness. We expect the new science standards to be ready in May and will begin adjusting our curriculum in that area as well.
The new expectations lay the groundwork for the state to replace the ISAT with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments in the 2014-2015 school year.