State Board Discusses Cut-scores for Prairie State Achievement Examination

July 11, 2001

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The State Board of Education met Tuesday to review proposed cut scores that would determine how well students are meeting or exceeding state Learning Standards on the new 11th grade Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE). Final cut scores for Exceeds, Meets, Does Not Meet and Academic Warning levels are scheduled to be set by the Board in the next ten days.

The proposed cut scores were recommended by panels composed primarily of high school teachers that spent three days reviewing the tests after receiving 12 hours of training. Representatives of higher education and business also served on the panels.

If the cut scores are accepted by the State Board as presented, preliminary results indicate that more than half of the state’s eleventh graders meet or exceed the Illinois Learning Standards in each of the five subjects – Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and Writing. Virtually all the state’s eleventh-grade students took the first-ever PSAE in April.

A preliminary look at the performance of a representative sample of students yielded results that appear to be generally in line with what we already know about student achievement in our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.

“We see much the same picture via the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) results in middle school, and on such tests as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS),” he said.

“The Illinois Learning Standards are rigorous and they are only three years old. These 11th graders have had very limited instruction that is aligned with the Standards. At the same time, the PSAE is a difficult test, but it sets the bar appropriately high. We will see progress in future test results as schools throughout the state continue to teach to the Standards.

“Our goal is for all students to meet or exceed the Illinois Learning Standards.” McGee said. “When finalized, these first-year test results will provide us with an excellent baseline from which to judge future improvements in achievement by Illinois high school students.”

Preliminary results are based on a representative sample of 10,554 PSAE tests analyzed by ACT officials who administered the cut-score process. The process is the same used by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and included panelists representing the various school sizes and geographical areas of the state. A majority of each of the panels recommended the cut scores reviewed by the Board.

The PSAE is the first state-level assessment to incorporate a nationally accepted college entrance examination (the ACT) and tests geared to assess students’ readiness for the workplace (the Work Keys components.)

“The results are significant to students because they help them make important decisions about their lives, and to all Illinoisans because they give a clear picture of how well our kids are achieving against the high expectations for their learning,” McGee said. “The full value of the results will be shown as we have more years to compare.”