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Higher cut scores part of move toward more rigor in standards and assessments to better prepare students for college and careers

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today  released 2013 state average test scores that showed Illinois elementary school students are  demonstrating growth in learning over the 5-year trend under new performance levels. However, as expected following the Board’s move to raise performance levels on the 2013 Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), the number of students meeting and exceeding state standards dropped.

These higher performance levels provide a more accurate and earlier indication of college and career readiness and better align with the expectations for 11th graders who take the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE), which includes the ACT. The ACT is considered the gold standard for measuring college and career readiness.

“By raising the ISAT cut scores in Reading and Math, we’ve seen the expected drop in student performance, but this drop does not reflect on students as a group or individuals – we raised the bar on performance levels,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch.  “We needed to raise our expectations at the elementary level so that students are on track for high school and eventually prepared to succeed in college, career and daily life. As we map student performance over time on the new performance levels we’re seeing steady growth.”

Students in third through eighth grades last March took the ISAT in reading and mathematics, which were subject to the raised performance levels, while fourth and seventh graders were also tested in science, which did not see a change in performance expectations as new science standards have not yet been approved.  Students in 11th grade last April took the PSAE, which tests students in math, reading and science.

The statewide composite score for students meeting and exceeding standards on the ISAT dropped, going from 82.1 in 2012 to 61.9 in 2013. This decline is very similar to the projections Superintendent Koch and Board members made in January when they announced the higher cut scores.

Analysis of previous ISAT composite scores for reading and math alone under the new cut scores shows that students demonstrated significant growth over the past five years, increasing overall performance on ISAT reading from 54.8 in 2009 to 59 in 2013. Analysis on ISAT math scores during that same five-year timeline shows an increase from 55.3 in 2009 to 58.7 in 2013.  The overall composite math and reading score increased from 55.1 in 2009 to 58.8 in 2013.

The ISAT science composite score – not impacted by the raised cut scores – went from 79.8 in 2012 to 80.0 in 2013.

The composite score for the PSAE, given to 11th graders, increased from 51.3 in 2012 to 51.9 in 2013. Performance level cut scores for the PSAE were not raised as the test includes the ACT.

Prior to raising the cut scores, a disconnect existed  between the ISAT and the higher expectations of the PSAE with 82 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT statewide in 2012 while only 51 percent met or exceeded standards on the PSAE that same year. Educators have wanted to remedy that disconnect by raising expectations earlier to provide a more accurate indication of whether a student is on track for post-secondary success.

“We appreciate the coherence and clarity that the Illinois State Board of Education is bringing to the need for schools to focus on college and career readiness, and specifically the help and support that the Common Core State Standards provide as far as curricular direction and focus is concerned,’’ said Dr. Eric Twadell, Superintendent of Adlai Stevenson High School District 125.  “Clearly, education for the 21st Century is changing dramatically, and we’re grateful to the ISBE for providing us the resources to support our teachers and students in this important work.”

Jeff Mays, President of the Illinois Business Round Table, supports the state’s move to the Common Core Learning Standards and higher performance level cut scores, saying that both initiatives will promote a more serious and perhaps more urgent dialogue among schools within Illinois, and more importantly, between the school, parents and students about the level of achievement needed to meet the challenges before them.

“By realigning all ISAT scoring expectations to those of the high school test (Prairie State Achievement Exam-PSAE), the State Board of Education has signaled that all students and schools will be held to the same expectations,” Mays said.  “This means that a large number of students and schools that met standards in 2012 will no longer be told they met standards on the Spring 2013 ISATs.  If schools are truly about the kids, isn’t it better that kids know sooner rather than later where they truly stand on their education path?”

Student Demographics & Performance

· The number of districts declined from 891 in 2003 to 863 in 2013; there were 376 elementary districts, 100 high school districts, and 387 unit districts.

· In 2012-13, the total enrollment in Illinois public schools was 2,054,155, down more than 12,000 (12,537) students from 2012.

· Since 1999, the percentage of low-income students has increased from 36.1 percent to 49.8 percent in 2013.

· Minority enrollment increased from 38 percent in 1999 to 49.4 percent. The increase is attributed to the growth of the Hispanic student population, which increased from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 24.1 percent of all students in 2013.

· The number of Limited-English proficient (LEP) students increased from 6.3 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2013. LEP students include those who are eligible for bilingual education.

ISBE has produced the School Report Card since 1986 for every public school and district in Illinois. State report cards have been produced since 2002 and are required under No Child Left Behind.

ISAT Statewide Averages in Reading/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

2009-2013 Trend Data using New Cut Scores

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

3

2009

54.8

2010

56.2

2011

54

2012

58.6

2013

58.8

……….4

2009

54.2

2010

55.9

2011

56.2

2012

58.4

2013

59.2

5

2009

53.6

2010

57.3

2011

57.5

2012

58

2013

58.9

6

2009

54.2

2010

58.1

2011

56.9

2012

57.2

2013

58.9

7

2009

58.7

2010

58.8

2011

60.1

2012

60.8

2013

58.4

8

2009

53.2

2010

54.4

2011

57.8

2012

60.0

2013

59.8

ISAT Statewide Averages in Math/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

3

2009

52.8

2010

53.5

2011

55.4

2012

55.8

2013

54.9

4

2009

56.3

2010

57.2

2011

59.7

2012

62.2

2013

60.2

5

2009

55.5

2010

57.1

2011

58.5

2012

59.0

2013

59.4

6

2009

56.8

2010

58.7

2011

58.7

2012

60.6

2013

59.6

7

2009

55.1

2010

57.8

2011

60.3

2012

60.4

2013

59.0

8

2009

55.4

2010

57.6

2011

59.0

2012

59.0

2013

58.9

ISAT Statewide Averages Science/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

4

2009

76.8

2010

76.7

2011

79.3

2012

79.8

2013

81.0

7

2009

79.5

2010

82.4

2011

81.9

2012

79.9

2013

79.0

PSAE Statewide Averages/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Year

Reading

Math

Science

2009

56.9

51.6

50.5

2010

54.0

52.7

52.4

2011

51.0

51.3

49.2

2012

50.7

51.6

51.7

2013

54.8

51.8

49.3

Illinois’ NCLB waiver remains under review with the U.S. Department of Education. The federal education agency has indicated that the only barrier to approval of the Illinois waiver application remains the state’stimeline for when districts must use student growth in their new local teacher evaluation system. The U.S. Department of Education is calling for all districts to implement new evaluations in 2014-15, but Illinois law calls for a progressive phase-in from 2012-13 to 2016-17 when all districts must use the new evaluation system.

Reform Agenda

Some of the reforms implemented in the 2012-13 school year include:

  • Continued implementation of the more rigorous Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and math.

  • ISBE again made the ACT-aligned exam “EXPLORE” available to 9th graders in public schools and the corresponding exam “PLAN” to 10th graders as part of a testing system that includes the ACT, already part of the PSAE, in the 11th grade. EXPLORE and PLAN, produced by ACT, test students on English, Math, Reading and Science and help monitor college and career readiness. In the 2012-13 school year, there were 84,178 EXPLORE and 80,649 PLAN tests scored in the state-funded program.

  • ISBE also made available for 11th graders, ACT’s WorkKeys Locating Information test, completing the battery of three WorkKeys assessments required for students to be eligible to receive a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). In 2013, more than 117,000 students took the WorkKeys Locating Information test and nearly 99,000 students earned the NCRC in 2013.

  • A growth model based on value tables is being reported to measure progress for grades 4 through 8 this year. The new metric is being offered on an advisory basis this year.

  • Illinois schools administered the first statewide survey of learning conditions and school climate in 2012-13 with reports expected later this fall and a summary on the new School Report Card. Eighty-seven percent of all schools in the state met the 50-percent participation threshold to receive an Illinois 5Essentials report. More than seventy percent of all teachers and eligible students across Illinois took part in the 2012-2013 survey.

  • A more consumer-friendly school and district report card will debut in late October with more robust information to reflect the unique qualities of each school in the state.

Illinois is a member of the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) that is developing a new generation of tests aligned to the new standards to better measure students’ knowledge, skills and growth. The new state tests are expected to be available by the 2014-15 school year.


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