Testing Common Core

In the past, our high school PSAE scores did not align to the ISAT scores for our students in third through eighth grades, resulting in what appeared to be a drop in performance once the students entered high school. In reality, the assessment cut scores were misaligned. The new cut scores better align progress from third through eleventh grades and provides more meaningful information to parents as to the progress students make as they move from grade to grade.

Last year, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) raised the performance expectations for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) as part of the ongoing effort to better prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century. Almost all schools in Illinois saw noticeable drops in their ISAT scores with the new cut scores. Like most districts, Mahomet-Seymour's scores district-wide dropped more than 10 percentile points in reading and math bringing scores into the 70s and 80s.

The new state grading system shows students across the state dropping to 60 percent for reading and math, an ISBE analysis found, down from 79 percent and 86 percent respectively.

These new expectations do not mean that students know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. Instead, the state is saying that current standards are too low and that it is expecting more of students to show their progress toward college and career-readiness benchmarks.

Our spring administration of the ISAT will also use these new cut scores and 100% of the questions on the ISAT test will include Common Core material, which is new to students.

A good analogy is a pole vaulter who clears the bar at 12 feet, improves his vault to 13 feet, but cannot clear the bar because it has been raised to 15 feet. His performance improved, but the bar was raised even higher.

Previously, our assessments only addressed what students needed for success at the next grade level. The new standards address how prepared students are for college and careers.

Please be aware when the State releases our scores this fall, we will likewise see a probable decline in the scores from earlier years. This doesn’t mean our students aren’t learning or achieving, just that the scoring standards have changed.

Mahomet-Seymour began introducing the Common Core State Standards into the curriculum this year. Subsequently, adjusting the performance levels on the ISAT for math and English language arts to better align with the more rigorous standards of the Common Core provides teachers and parents more timely information about a student’s progress toward postsecondary success.

The new expectations will 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 2014-2015 school year.

In 2014-2015, Illinois will switch from the ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) to a new standardized test based on the Common Core standards. Illinois is among more than a dozen other states working together to create new assessments specifically aligned with the Common Core learning standards as part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). These new online assessments in English language arts and mathematics place a greater emphasis on constructed response questions and more closely resemble the work that students typically do in the classroom.