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ISAT Scoring Will Change—Fewer Oswego Students Likely to Meet, Exceed Standards

Arbitrary "cut" scores are changing to align ISAT scores with ACT and PARCC assessments. That means students' and schools' performance grades are likely to drop in the categories of English and math.

Don't be surprised if your son or daughter in one of Oswego 308's many elementary schools or junior highs drops from "exceeds standards" to "meets standards" or from "meets" to "below" standards in the upcoming Illinois Standard Achievement Tests (ISAT).

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last month approved new cut scores that will help align the ISAT results with those of the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) —colloquially called the ACT test—given to 11th graders, and establish a foundation for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam set to debut in the 2014-15 school year. 

The higher expectations of the new ISAT cut scores will cause a downward shift in the number of students who meet or exceed standards. According to the 2012 ISAT results, 79 percent of all grade 3 through 8 students scored proficient in reading and 86 percent of students scored proficient in mathematics, according to an ISBE press release

"These higher expectations will result in a significant reduction in the number of students who meet and exceed standards," said Illinois Superintendent of Schools Chris Koch in a statement. 

In a question and answer release posted to the Oswego 308 school website, the district addressed how the new scoring will benefit students. "We will know sooner whether or not kids are on track for college and careers. We also will be able to provide the appropriate supports and interventions for students at an earlier point in their academic career, thus boosting a student’s chances for success in college and the workforce," the release stated.  

The Oswego 308 release stressed that the new expecations do not mean that Oswego students know less than they did before or are less capable than in previous years. 

"It means that we are raising the bar on how well students are prepared to meet college and career readiness benchmarks. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or the school administration. We’ll be able to answer your questions and work with you to create a plan to accelerate your child’s progress and ensure that he or she is ready for college and career by the end of high school," said the release. 

In 2010, Illinois became one of 45 states and the District of Columbia to adopt Common Core Standards for public education. The standards are more rigorous and robust than the Illinois Learning Standards previously in place, and are intended to better prepare students for success in college and careers within our increasingly global economy, as well as to compete with peers around the state, the country and the world for the jobs of tomorrow, according to District 58 officials.

The Common Core Standards are set up as year-by-year guidelines outlining the skills and content students must minimally master at each grade level. 

When using the new performance levels to analyze the ISAT data collected in spring 2012, the percentage of students who meet and exceed standards drops to 60 percent for both reading and mathematics. The drop is a result of raising expectations, not a reflection of student or teacher performance, according to the ISBE release.

“Raising expectations is never easy, and the anticipated drop in students’ scores will be significant,” Koch said in the ISBE 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 economy. I am confident that our students will rise to the challenge and show continued progress under the new performance levels.”

Read the full release with common questions with answers at the Oswego 308 website

Downer's Grove editor Amanda Luveano contributed to this report. 

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