State warns parents ISAT performance will drop


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Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013, 6:19 pm
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SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois is telling millions of parents that their kids did not get dumber since last year, the state's elementary school test just got harder.

The Illinois State Board of Education has "raised the bar" for the Illinois Student Achievement Exam, which third- through eighth-graders will take this spring.Illinois State Superintendent Chris Koch also said the test is more aligned to the Common Core.

The higher bar will result in lower scores. Koch is telling parents to expect that only 60 percent of kids will meet or exceed the standards of the new test. In 2011, 79 percent of students met or exceeded standards in reading, and 86 percent met standards in math.

In a letter to parents, Koch and the state board said the double-digit drop in scores "does not mean that our students know less. Instead, ISBE is simply expecting more from students."

The changes to the ISAT scores are just the first of many changes for students, parents, local schools and the state.Within two years Illinois will do away the ISAT all together, replace it with a new yet-to-be-written test, and fully implement the national Common Core State Standard Initiative.

Illinois is one of 45 states to sign-on to Common Core, which are essentially national learning standards. Supporters say all students should have the same learning goals. Critics worry a one-size fits-all approach may not be the best way to teach students.

"We are preparing students, teachers, and (school districts) for that test," Koch said.

But some local school districts don't feel prepared at all.

"The educational bureaucracy is out of control," said Carbondale High School Superintendent Steve Murphy. "The state is changing the test scores for a test that is going away in a few years."

Murphy's students, as high schoolers, will not take the test.Carbondale's other superintendent, Mike Shimshak -- who oversees the elementary schools -- will see his students' scores drop. Though Shimshak is not focusing too much on the scores.

"We look to see how we compare to the state. If they move up or down, we will likely follow," Shimshak said. "We want to know how we are doing compared to other districts like us."

Koch said the state is going to shift focus from individual tests scores as well, as part of the Common Core, and move toward "growth standards."

That worries Murphy.

"Standards are a good thing when you use them to enlighten people," he said. "But when you use those standards to control people they're not. I think these standards are a way to wrest local control of schools."

Murphy said he worries about the coming changes linked to Common Core.

"We have more than 800 school districts in Illinois, and the state and federal governments are trying to treat them all the same."

















 



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  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.








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