Higher Benchmarks for ISATs

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STATELINE (WIFR) – Don’t be surprised if your child gets a lower score on their Illinois Standards Achievement Test, also known as the ISAT.

There seems to be a learning gap between elementary, middle, and high schools. The State says standards on the ISATs, which are given to third through eighth graders don’t match the rigor of the Prairie State Achievement examination which is given in 11th grade. That’s why the benchmarks have changed. Expectations are now higher.
“It’s like changing the grading scale. It used to be 90-100 is an ‘A’ and then you change the scale to 95-100 is an ‘A’,” said Assistant Superintendent for Harlem Schools, Barb Browning.

The idea is to better align the exams so students aren’t struggling when they get to high school.

“Earlier on, we’ll know where we need to intervene and give extra support to students versus when they get to high school, 11th grade, we only have one more year with them,” said Hononegah superintendent Kim Suedbeck.

The changes mean test scores may be lower for some students, but parents shouldn’t worry.

“I want to stress that with this adjustment in the cut scores, this does not mean our students have learned less, but I do think it’s an exciting opportunity for our students and staff to work together to stretch and prepare for those higher standards,” said District 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett.
Parents can also help their kids prepare.

“Doing that little problem solving with them and talking about if you want to buy this toy at the store and you have an allowance, how much are you going to have to save each week, how long will it take you to get there.”

About 20% of the question on last year’s ISATs were written for the more rigorous standards. This year, all questions will be written that and next school year the state will move to new online assessments. It’s part of the common core standards, a national benchmark.

Statewide, ISAT scores and report cards come out October 31st, however individual districts can release those numbers earlier. Rockford Public Schools plans to do so at the end of this month.

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