Higher standards mean fewer meet expectations on state tests
By Jenette Sturges email@example.com March 1, 2013 4:06PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 11:09AM
Your children are not less smart, nor have your schools gotten worse. But the yardstick by which both are measured is changing.
Last month, the Illinois State Board of Education announced the release of revised cut-offs for 2012 ISAT scores.
The lower cut-offs mean that some students who met expectations for their grade level now look as though they have not met expectations.
For example, under the previous guidelines, 77 percent of students in grades three through eight throughout the West Aurora School District met or exceed expectations in math last year.
Under new state guidelines, just 48 percent of students made the grade.
Educators said the change is meant to prepare teachers, students and their parents for the more rigorous curriculum that schools are adopting.
ISAT testing for 2013 begins Monday and will run through March 15.
“Very bluntly, what they’re trying to prepare everyone for is that these new cut scores, they’re higher, there are going to be fewer students meeting standards,” said Erika Schlichter, Kaneland’s director of educational services for grades 6-12. “Before, we may have had a student who needed to be doing better, but they were hovering in the ‘meets expectations’ category on the ISAT, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were on track for college readiness.”
Two years from now, however, stricter ISAT scores will mean little, when the test is thrown out in favor of a new test aligned with the Common Core standards.
“It’s going to be a much bigger focus on higher order thinking skills,” said Schlichter.
Whereas a standardized test in math now might present students, for example, a simple story problem, the new Common Core test might give students a more complex, messier sort of problem, with multiple parts and multiple ways to get to an answer.
Which means that results from the old ISAT need to be taken with a grain of salt.
“I don’t know that the test was easy, but it was based on Illinois state learning standards, developed in the ‘90s,” said Schlichter. “And now we have new standard.”