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Topic: [ncsm-members] IL State says student test scores set to plummet
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] IL State says student test scores set to plummet
Posted: Jan 27, 2013 5:24 PM
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From Catalyst CHICAGO [Independent Reporting on Urban Education],
Wednesday, January 23, 2013. See
[Our thanks to Norman Stahl for bringing this piece to our
attention; also, CPS means Chicago Public Schools]
State says student test scores set to plummet under higher standards

By Sarah Karp

Next year, parents likely will get a rude awakening when they are
handed their child's ISAT scores. After a decade in which ISAT cut
scores crept down, state officials are poised to raise them, thereby
likely reducing the number of students who meet or exceed standards.

The Illinois State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the
proposed changes at their meeting on Thursday. The move comes in
anticipation of a new, tougher standardized test expected to be ready
for use in 2014. The new test will be based on the Common Core
standards which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of
Columbia. The Common Core standards are thought to be more rigorous
than current state standards. [see ]

If the change is approved, ISBE projects that the percentage of
students statewide who meet or exceed standards on the ISAT will drop
by 20 points in reading and math. ISBE officials will analyze the
expected effects on individual districts in the coming weeks, ISBE
spokesman Matt Vanover said.

If CPS has the same projected decrease, about 50 percent of students
would meet standards on the ISAT-a similar percentage as in 2005,
before the state lowered cut scores. In 2006, the cut scores were
recalibrated and CPS saw a 15 percentage point jump in students
meeting or exceeding standards. Last year, 76.4 percent of students
in CPS met standards on the ISAT.

"Raising expectations is never easy, and the anticipated drop in
students' scores will be significant," said State Superintendent
Chris Koch in a press 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

CPS is planning on sending letters to parents to explain to them what
is going on, said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

Another reason for the recalibration, Koch said, is the state's
desire to align results on the high school standardized test, called
the PSAE, with the ISAT. Only 51 percent of high school juniors met
standards on the PSAE, compared to 82 percent on the ISAT.

Consequences for student retention, school probation, school ratings

Over the past two years, district officials have worked to prepare
parents for the change. They have downplayed the results on the ISAT
and, instead, tried to get parents to focus on the NWEA, a benchmark
exam with results reported for the first time in 2011 on the
district's redesigned school progress reports. [see

The NWEA is considered to be more closely aligned with the Common
Core standards. Currently, the NWEA is now the only test with results
reported on a school's progress report.

But, for CPS students, the change may have greater consequences. CPS
is the only school district in the state that bases grade promotion
partly on students' ISAT scores. CPS officials have not said whether
they plan to alter the policy in light of the cut-score increase or
the Common Core assessment in coming years.

Also, ISAT results determine whether a school is placed on probation,
as well as on the district's rating scale.

State standardized test scores also will be weighed into teacher and
principal evaluations. However, growth will be considered, so low
test scores, starting out, could be a benefit.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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