Don't be surprised if your son or daughter in District 200 drops from "exceeds standards" to "meets standards" or from "meets" to "below" standards in the upcoming Illinois Standard Achievement Tests (ISAT).
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last month approved new cut scores that will help align the ISAT results with those of the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) —colloquially called the ACT test—given to 11th graders, and establish a foundation for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam set to debut in the 2014-15 school year.
The higher expectations of the new ISAT cut scores will cause a downward shift in the number of students who meet or exceed standards. According to the 2012 ISAT results, 79 percent of all grade 3 through 8 students scored proficient in reading and 86 percent of students scored proficient in mathematics, according to an ISBE press release.
In a letter to District 200 parents, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Faith Dahlquist wrote, "Some students who previously met or exceeded standards will instead show the need for improvement. However, 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, ISBE is simply expecting more of students going forward to show their progress toward college and career-readiness targets."
Dahlquist said District 200 administrators have known about the change and in its anticipation, they have been sharing what the shift may look like with staff.
"These higher expectations will result in a significant reduction in the number of students who meet and exceed standards," said Illinois Superintendent of Schools Chris Koch in a statement.
"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."
It's all part of the Common Core curriculum, which will include a computer-based assessment that will yield more timely results and will be given more than once during the school year.
District 200 is already implementing the Common Core standards for math and literacy. The new math standards will be implemented in fall 2013 and the new English/Language Arts standards will be implemented in 2014.
The District 200 Board of Education has approved the new math standards and is in the process of determining the English standards to implement in 2014, board president Rosemary Swanson said last month.
In 2010, Illinois became one of 45 other states and the District of Columbia to adopt Common Core Standards for public education. District 200 high school teachers this year implemented professional learning communities (PLCs) to address students' progress and needs as the district implements the new common core standards.
When using the new performance levels to analyze the ISAT data collected in spring 2012, the percentage of students who meet and exceed standards drops to 60 percent for both reading and mathematics. The drop is a result of raising expectations, not a reflection of student or teacher performance, according to the release.
“Raising expectations is never easy, and the anticipated drop in students’ scores will be significant,” Koch said in the ISBE release. “However, we must seize this opportunity to tap into our children’s full potential and better prepare them at an earlier age to compete for jobs in a global economy. I am confident that our students will rise to the challenge and show continued progress under the new performance levels.”