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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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August 6, 2003

Governor Signs Bill Enhancing State Assessment System

Legislation includes annual testing in reading and math for grades 3-8

August 6, 2003 -- Legislation signed into law yesterday by Governor Blagojevich will result in an enhanced statewide testing system that will help improve student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards and put Illinois in compliance with the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) statute, Robert E. Schiller, State Superintendent of Education said today.

The Governor signed HB 2352, which makes several significant changes -- including the establishment of annual testing in reading and math for grades 3-8 -- in the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) given each spring in Illinois public elementary schools. The changes will effect no later than the 2005-06 school year.

“We have had a high quality system of testing in Illinois up to now, but these changes will give it even more credibility,” Schiller said.

The legislation grew out of recommendations made to the General Assembly by the Assessment and Accountability Task Force appointed last year by Schiller, who co-chaired the group with Dr. Robert Nielsen, superintendent of Bloomington District 87. The task force conducted numerous meetings and five public hearings across the state, then proposed changes required by the NCLB and additional changes to ensure a more useful system of state assessments.

“Our enhanced statewide assessment system will have a high level of reliability and validity and provide continuity from the current assessment system,” Schiller said. “It will provide timely results that are meaningful and educationally useful for educators, parents and the broader community. In the long run, it could even reduce the amount of time students spend being tested, if school districts come to rely on it and are able to eliminate additional local testing,” he said.

HB2352 includes the following specific changes, to be in place by 2005–2006:

  1. Assess all students in reading and math in grades 3–8 (currently assessed in grades 3, 5 and 8);
  2. Assess social science in grades 5 and 8 (currently assessed in
    grades 4 and 7);
  3. Increase writing assessment so that students are assessed in grades 3, 4, 6, and 8 (currently students are assessed in grades 3, 5, and 8);
  4. Assess writing in a more developmentally appropriate manner; and
  5. Limit time for ISAT testing to 38 hours (currently 25 hours).


  • There will be no changes in the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which assesses reading, math, writing, science, and social science at grade 11.
  • Language is clarified regarding assessment of students with limited English proficiency, consistent with NCLB, to allow additional time for pupils in bilingual programs.
  • Language is clarified that there will be a state testing window for all state student assessments, rather than a common testing month.
  • Voluntary testing would be available – if there is sufficient federal funding to support it – for local diagnostic purposes, for additional high school writing, and for physical development and health and fine arts standards.
  • A definition of “all pupils” is provided to ensure that students in all public settings are assessed.
  • School districts are encouraged to consider elimination of local annual testing once the revised state assessment is in place.

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