Illinois’ first-in-the-nation test goes smoothly

April 30, 2001

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Reports indicate that the first administration of the Prairie State Achievement Examination went very smoothly throughout the state, according to State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.

“Students responded extremely well to this unique test that measures progress on the Illinois Learning Standards,” McGee said.  “Reports from across the state indicate that attendance was high and students were actively engaged in the testing process.

“This speaks well to the efforts of local school officials in preparing for the test administration and in emphasizing the importance of the PSAE.  First-year preparation for any test is difficult, and since this is the first “high stakes” test for all Illinois juniors, extraordinary efforts were required.  Local districts admirably stepped up to the challenge and did a magnificent job of administering the test,” McGee concluded.

Results of the PSAE are required by state law to be a part of the permanent records of students.  The PSAE tested students’ achievement of the Illinois Learning Standards in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social science.  In addition to the Standards achievement results, test-takers get two bonuses – ACT Assessment results that can be used for college admission and WorkKeys scores that employers may use for evaluating applicants.

The PSAE is the first statewide test to incorporate within it a college entrance examination, the ACT, and workplace-skills tests, the ACT WorkKeys in Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information. 

State Board staff and staff from ACT visited several test sites throughout the state to monitor this first administration of the PSAE.

“No significant problems were found on any of these visits,” McGee said.  “Instead, monitors were pleased to find the process proceeding smoothly with attendance higher than expected and students concentrating on the test items.

“We have noted some ways that we can help districts with this testing burden in future years, and we will continue working with local school officials to find improvements that will ease the logistic difficulties of administering this important test.  We will survey local district officials and conduct a number of focus groups to get suggestions for things we can do to improve future test administrations.”