ISAT Scoring Will Change—Fewer Downers Grove Students Likely to Meet, Exceed Standards
Arbitrary "cut" scores are changing to align ISAT scores with ACT and PARCC assessments. That means students' and schools' performance grades are likely to drop in the categories of English and math.
Don't be surprised if your son or daughter in Downers Grove Grade School 58 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.
"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.
In a letter to District 58 parents, Superintendent Kari Cremascoli wrote, "District 58 schools have historically performed very well on the ISATs, and our parents and community have high expectations. We want our parents to know well in advance of our 2013 ISAT scores being released next fall that the new norms will likely yield a reduced percentage of students meeting and exceeding the new standards.”
Cremascoli emphasized that the decline in performance will not mean students are less capable or prepared than they were in years past. District 58 has already worked to prepare teachers, students and parents for the shift to the Common Core, she said.
“They are increasingly better prepared for the rigor of the Common Core as we have already taken steps to review and revise each of our curricular components and to increase our academic expectations of all students throughout our district. However, the revised norms will cause the reporting of that progress to be deflated in comparison to previous years,” Cremascoli said.
District 58 is already implementing the Common Core standards for math and literacy—including reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, Cremascoli said.
In 2010, Illinois became one of 45 states and the District of Columbia to adopt Common Core Standards for public education. The standards are more rigorous and robust than the Illinois Learning Standards previously in place, and are intended to better prepare students for success in college and careers within our increasingly global economy, as well as to compete with peers around the state, the country and the world for the jobs of tomorrow, according to District 58 officials.
The Common Core Standards are set up as year-by-year guidelines outlining the skills and content students must minimally master at each grade level.
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 ISBE 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.”
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