The district's school report cards are now posted on our Web site; the state will release the report cards to the public for all schools on Oct. 31. One of the main components of the report cards is the results of the Illinois Student Achievement Test (ISAT). The ISAT is the way schools in Illinois show accountability to No Child Left Behind, a law that says that 100% of students must meet standards in reading and math by 2014.
Like most schools in the state, our ISAT scores took a dip this year because the math and literacy questions were more challenging and students had to score higher than before to meet standards. The district's drop in scores was about half the drop in the state average: overall, 79.1% of our students met or exceeded standards on the 2013 test (down from 92% in 2012); at the state level, 58.8% of students met or exceeded standards (down from 82.5% in 2012).
We believe that our early and vigorous focus on aligning our curriculum to the Common Core standards and our teachers' excellent instruction will help our students do well and grow over time. Our 21st century initiatives of teacher specialization in grades 2 through 5 and our multiage approach to literacy/social studies in grades 4 and 5 will help all children excel, regardless of their strengths and challenges. Our growing attention to science will help children make gains in that subject as well. Teachers are now able to take their students deeper into the subject matter, group them in ways that better meet their learning needs and integrate subjects in ways that are relevant, meaningful and engaging.
This coming spring will be the last time Illinois students take the ISAT, and 2014 is the year that NCLB says that 100% of students must meet standards in reading and math. In 2014-2015, the state will use the new online achievement test called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career), which is expected to be a test that will measure higher level thinking skills in alignment to the new Common Core standards.
ISAT is just one measure of student performance - a snapshot in time. We have other measures that round out the picture of student growth and help us to identify and respond to trends. We want our students to be confident learners and problem solvers who embody the District 41 Learner Characteristics. If we teach well, use the standards as our guide and truly meet the learning needs of our students, the tests will take care of themselves. Our challenge is to understand the students who sit before us so we can help them go higher than ever before.
Dr. Paul Gordon
Superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41