News

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2013

Elementary students show growth on state tests under new performance levels; number of students meeting standards drops as expected


Higher cut scores part of move toward more rigor in standards and assessments to better prepare students for college and careers

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today released 2013 state average test scores that showed Illinois elementary school students are demonstrating growth in learning over the 5-year trend under new performance levels. However, as expected following the Board’s move to raise performance levels on the 2013 Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), the number of students meeting and exceeding state standards dropped.

These higher performance levels provide a more accurate and earlier indication of college and career readiness and better align with the expectations for 11th graders who take the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE), which includes the ACT. The ACT is considered the gold standard for measuring college and career readiness.

“By raising the ISAT cut scores in Reading and Math, we’ve seen the expected drop in student performance, but this drop does not reflect on students as a group or individuals – we raised the bar on performance levels,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We needed to raise our expectations at the elementary level so that students are on track for high school and eventually prepared to succeed in college, career and daily life. As we map student performance over time on the new performance levels we’re seeing steady growth.”

Students in third through eighth grades last March took the ISAT in reading and mathematics, which were subject to the raised performance levels, while fourth and seventh graders were also tested in science, which did not see a change in performance expectations as new science standards have not yet been approved. Students in 11th grade last April took the PSAE, which tests students in math, reading and science.

The statewide composite score for students meeting and exceeding standards on the ISAT dropped, going from 82.1 in 2012 to 61.9 in 2013. This decline is very similar to the projections Superintendent Koch and Board members made in January when they announced the higher cut scores.

Analysis of previous ISAT composite scores for reading and math alone under the new cut scores shows that students demonstrated significant growth over the past five years, increasing overall performance on ISAT reading from 54.8 in 2009 to 59 in 2013. Analysis on ISAT math scores during that same five-year timeline shows an increase from 55.3 in 2009 to 58.7 in 2013. The overall composite math and reading score increased from 55.1 in 2009 to 58.8 in 2013.

The ISAT science composite score – not impacted by the raised cut scores - went from 79.8 in 2012 to 80.0 in 2013.

The composite score for the PSAE, given to 11th graders, increased from 51.3 in 2012 to 51.9 in 2013. Performance level cut scores for the PSAE were not raised as the test includes the ACT.

Prior to raising the cut scores, a disconnect existed between the ISAT and the higher expectations of the PSAE with 82 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT statewide in 2012 while only 51 percent met or exceeded standards on the PSAE that same year. Educators have wanted to remedy that disconnect by raising expectations earlier to provide a more accurate indication of whether a student is on track for post-secondary success.

"We appreciate the coherence and clarity that the Illinois State Board of Education is bringing to the need for schools to focus on college and career readiness, and specifically the help and support that the Common Core State Standards provide as far as curricular direction and focus is concerned,’’ said Dr. Eric Twadell, Superintendent of Adlai Stevenson High School District 125. “Clearly, education for the 21st Century is changing dramatically, and we’re grateful to the ISBE for providing us the resources to support our teachers and students in this important work."

Jeff Mays, President of the Illinois Business Round Table, supports the state’s move to the Common Core Learning Standards and higher performance level cut scores, saying that both initiatives will promote a more serious and perhaps more urgent dialogue among schools within Illinois, and more importantly, between the school, parents and students about the level of achievement needed to meet the challenges before them.

“By realigning all ISAT scoring expectations to those of the high school test (Prairie State Achievement Exam-PSAE), the State Board of Education has signaled that all students and schools will be held to the same expectations,” Mays said. “This means that a large number of students and schools that met standards in 2012 will no longer be told they met standards on the Spring 2013 ISATs. If schools are truly about the kids, isn’t it better that kids know sooner rather than later where they truly stand on their education path?”

Student Demographics & Performance

ISBE has produced the School Report Card since 1986 for every public school and district in Illinois. State report cards have been produced since 2002 and are required under No Child Left Behind.

ISAT Statewide Averages in Reading/Percentage Meet and Exceeds
2009-2013 Trend Data using New Cut Scores
Grade
Year
Percentage Meet and Exceeds
3
2009
54.8
2010
56.2
2011
54.0
2012
58.6
2013
58.8
4
2009
54.2
2010
55.9
2011
56.2
2012
58.4
2013
59.2
5
2009
53.6
2010
57.3
2011
57.5
2012
58.0
2013
58.9
6
2009
54.2
2010
58.1
2011
56.9
2012
57.2
2013
58.9
7
2009
58.7
2010
58.8
2011
60.1
2012
60.8
2013
58.4
8
2009
53.2
2010
54.4
2011
57.8
2012
60.0
2013
59.8


ISAT Statewide Averages in Reading/Percentage Meet and Exceeds
2009-2013 Trend Data using New Cut Scores
Grade
Year
Percentage Meet and Exceeds
3
2009
54.8
2010
56.2
2011
54.0
2012
58.6
2013
58.8
4
2009
54.2
2010
55.9
2011
56.2
2012
58.4
2013
59.2
5
2009
53.6
2010
57.3
2011
57.5
2012
58.0
2013
58.9
6
2009
54.2
2010
58.1
2011
56.9
2012
57.2
2013
58.9
7
2009
58.7
2010
58.8
2011
60.1
2012
60.8
2013
58.4
8
2009
53.2
2010
54.4
2011
57.8
2012
60.0
2013
59.8


ISAT Statewide Averages in Math/Percentage Meet and Exceeds
Grade
Year
Percentage Meet and Exceeds
3
2009
52.8
2010
53.5
2011
55.4
2012
55.8
2013
54.9
4
2009
56.3
2010
57.2
2011
59.7
2012
62.2
2013
60.2
5
2009
55.5
2010
57.1
2011
58.5
2012
59.0
2013
59.4
6
2009
56.8
2010
58.7
2011
58.7
2012
60.6
2013
59.6
7
2009
55.1
2010
57.8
2011
60.3
2012
60.4
2013
59.0
8
2009
55.4
2010
57.6
2011
59.0
2012
59.0
2013
58.9


ISAT Statewide Averages Science/Percentage Meet and Exceeds
Grade
Year
Percentage Meet and Exceeds
4
2009
76.8
2010
76.7
2011
79.3
2012
79.8
2013
81.0
7
2009
79.5
2010
82.4
2011
81.9
2012
79.9
2013
79.0


PSAE Statewide Averages/Percentage Meet and Exceeds
Year
Reading
Math
Science
2009
56.9
51.6
50.5
2010
54.0
52.7
52.4
2011
51.0
51.3
49.2
2012
50.7
51.6
51.7
2013
54.8
51.8
49.3

Illinois’ NCLB waiver remains under review with the U.S. Department of Education. The federal education agency has indicated that the only barrier to approval of the Illinois waiver application remains the state’stimeline for when districts must use student growth in their new local teacher evaluation system. The U.S. Department of Education is calling for all districts to implement new evaluations in 2014-15, but Illinois law calls for a progressive phase-in from 2012-13 to 2016-17 when all districts must use the new evaluation system.

Reform Agenda

Some of the reforms implemented in the 2012-13 school year include:

Illinois is a member of the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) that is developing a new generation of tests aligned to the new standards to better measure students’ knowledge, skills and growth. The new state tests are expected to be available by the 2014-15 school year.

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