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For Immediate Release
September 2, 2004

Illinois State Board of Education moves forward with enhanced state assessments

(Springfield) – Culminating two years of work with members of the education community, the State Board of Education Thursday authorized State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller to finalize a contract with an assessment contractor that will develop and score new tests to be implemented next school year.

The Request for Sealed Proposals was released last August, and since that time the State Board has been negotiating with three bidders that would implement the Illinois Enhanced Assessment System. Schiller will work toward finalizing a contract with Harcourt Assessment, Inc., which has been determined to be the most qualified bidder to develop and score the new tests.

Changes to state assessment mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act, made it necessary to update the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). The mandate provided the State Board with the opportunity to work with members of the education community in Illinois and together create the frameworks for the subjects to be assessed, to improve the reporting of data to and to enhance the delivery of data to school districts.

“We are confident that the new assessments will represent the needs of the educational community in Illinois,” Schiller said. “This has been an involved process with input from many teachers and administrators in Illinois, especially the people who served on our Accountability and Assessment Task Force and committed countless hours of time and effort to ensure that the new assessments will be a win-win for school districts statewide.”

In April the State Board of Education and the Assessment and Accountability Task Force were presented with the proposals by the three assessment contractors. Last month, the State Board passed a resolution, which requested input from the Governor’s office before finalizing a test contract. The State Board determined that recent substantive changes to state law and budget cuts affecting the subjects assessed by the state did not result in substantial and material changes in the RFSP. The Governor’s office agreed in writing that ISBE should move forward with the contract negotiations.

The contract is expected to run from the 2005-2006 school year through the 2007-2008 school year. The amount of the contract awarded and its specifications will not be released until it is finalized, however, Schiller assured State Board members that they can expect improvements in the areas of return of Report Card Information and timelier notifications of Adequate Yearly Progress status.

Currently the ISAT measures individual student achievement relative to the Illinois Learning Standards. The results give parents, teachers, and schools one measure of student learning and school performance. In the 2004-2004 school year students in grades 3, 5, and 8 will take the ISAT in reading and mathematics. Students in grades 4 and 7 will take the ISAT in science.

Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year the enhanced ISAT will be expanded to include assessment of students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and mathematics, while those students in grades 4 and 7 will continue to be assessed in science.

The PSAE measures the achievement of grade 11 students relative to the Illinois Learning Standards for reading, mathematics, and science, and will not be expanded to include additional grades.

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