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December 19, 2002

State Board Approves Recommendations to Simplify State Alternate Assessment

The State Board of Education today approved recommendations of the Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA) subcommittee of the Assessment and Accountability Task Force that will greatly simplify and improve the IAA for the 2002-03 school year and beyond, pending the development of a long-range plan for assessing students with disabilities.

The subcommittee included parents, teachers and administrators. The changes are aimed at alleviating concerns raised by teachers of students with disabilities that the current way the test is given does not ensure that student progress is accurately measured.

The IAA uses a portfolio format to reflect student learning through actual student work products, charts, graphs, pictures, teacher and parent notes, and other relevant documentation. During three collection periods teachers collect evidence of student progress in the same subject areas assessed through ISAT and PSAE. In 2002 students’ IAA portfolios were scored using a six-dimension rubric (student progress, link to the standards, self-determination, multiple settings, use of support, and social interactions).

In the recommendations approved by the Board, specifications for what is “counted” were made, with a new emphasis on linking student progress with instruction to standards, being emphasized. Further, two collection periods during the school year rather than three were adopted. The system is further strengthened by an adopted recommendation requiring that only certified teachers be used in scoring portfolios.

“These improvements strike a balance for ensuring that students with disabilities who are unable to take the ISAT or PSAE, even with accommodations, will be included in a state system of accountability. And they will ensure that the IAA portfolios are a reflection of student progress,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller.

“These recommendations are the result of input from many interested parties who deserve our thanks, “Schiller said. “They help us toward our goals of simplifying an important process and guaranteeing access to the general education curriculum while ensuring assessment and accountability.”

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777