By RORYE O’CONNOR
Students taking the ISAT test this spring will face a tougher exam due to new state standards.
The Illinois State Board of Education recently voted to raise the standards of the test in order to align with Illinois Common Core standards in English/language arts and mathematics, adopted in 2010.
“The Board today took a significant step in changing how we measure a student’s progress,” State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch recently said. “The lower expectations of the previous performance levels did our students a disservice by not adequately assessing their ability to succeed after high school. The new, higher expectations will provide more accurate information about a child’s development and allow us to provide the appropriate supports and interventions earlier in a student’s academic career to ensure he or she is on track to enter college or career-training programs.”
The ISAT assesses students in math, reading and science each spring, according to information from the ISBE, but it has “not proven to be a strong indicator of college and career readiness.”
The science portion of the ISAT will remain the same this year, information states.
Students across the state are showing higher scores on the ISAT and lower scores on the Prairie State Achievement Exam taken by all high school juniors, information states.
The current performance expectations for third through eighth graders are too low, said Ron Daniels, Hamilton-Jefferson County Regional Superintendent of Schools.
“The higher expectation will likely result in a downward shift of where third through eighth grade students rank in meeting or exceeding standards,” Daniels said in a press release. “These new expectations do not mean that our students know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. Instead, raising the performance levels should give a better indication on how well third through eighth grade students will meet the college and career readiness benchmark in high school when they take the PSAE. A part of the PSAE includes the ACT, which is a standard for college and career readiness.”
Daniels said the ISAT changes won’t affect adequate yearly progress determinations until 2013.
He said some sample scores indicate that individual scores may reduce by 20 to 30 percent with the change in the test.
“You have to realize in the past, if you look at the scores on the ISAT compared to PSAE, students were performing at 70 percent on the ISAT, and then 55 or 50 percent on the PSAE,” Daniels explained. “The PSAE is a much more difficult test. The whole goal is to better align the scores in grade school to the performance scores to the PSAE test in high schools.”
Illinois schools are working to align their curricula to the Common Core Standards adopted by Illinois and 44 other states in the country, which will help prepare students for the new ISAT and eventually the PSAE test, Daniels said.