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ISBE shows what U46, D300 test scores may look like next year

Updated: March 18, 2013 6:48AM

It’s one thing to say elementary and middle school students’ standardized test scores are going to see a drop next year, according to Mary Fergus, Illinois State Board of Education spokesperson.

It’s another to show what those scores actually might look like, Fergus said.

Her comments came Friday after the state board made public what Illinois school districts’ 2012 scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, or ISAT, look like when adjusted to the new, tougher standards the test will use this year.

Those scores are non-binding, she said, but they may hint at the scores that students in grades three to eight can expect on the test they take next month.

That shows the numbers plummeting from 75 percent of students in Elgin School District U46 meeting or exceeding state standards to 54 percent. In reading, those numbers will fall from 76 percent to 54; and in math, from 86 to 60.

In Community Unit School District 300, the adjusted numbers fall from a total 79 percent to 59, according to information from ISBE. In reading, that looks like a drop from 80 percent to 59, and in math from 88 to 61.

That leaves both area school districts behind the state average, dropping from a total 82 to 60 percent meeting those tougher state standards.

“Raising the ISAT ‘cut’ scores will cause a decline in the number of students who meet or exceed expectations across Illinois,” said Patrick Mogge, spokesperson for U46. “Like most school districts across the state, we are taking a proactive approach to prepare principals, teachers, parents and students so that this information does not come as a surprise.”

Those decreases come as the state sets higher “cut” scores — the scores needed for students to be considered meeting or exceeding standards.

For instance, third-graders now must score a 191 of 329 in reading to meet expectations and a 184 of 341 in math, according to information from ISBE. Next year, they must make a 207 in reading and 214 in math, it said.

The school districts already had received their adjusted scores, which officials in the Carpentersville-based district had discussed Monday at the District 300 Board of Education meeting.

“Parents are going to see these scores coming out, and it’s going to hit them in the face: ‘What the heck is this? My kid was here, and all of a sudden my kid is here.’ I think that’s where the confusion with the parents is,” said board member Chris Stanton.

Stanton called the numbers “a false read on the previous year.”

That’s because the state not only will apply higher cut scores to the tests taken this spring but also introduce new material from the Common Core Standards that Illinois schools are adopting, District 300 officials said at that meeting. About 20 percent of the content of those tests will be drawn from the Common Core, according to the district.

The changes to the ISAT come in order to align with the more-rigorous standards of the Common Core and give teachers and parents more timely information about a student’s progress toward college and career readiness, according to ISBE. Students who have scored well on ISAT exams later struggle on high school standardized tests, it said.

They also lay the groundwork for the state to replace the ISAT with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments during the 2014-15 school year, according to the state board.

Staff writer Jenette Sturges contributed to this report.

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