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Article updated: 2/13/2013 7:42 PM

State adjusts ISAT to meet Common Core's demands

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By Tim Waldorf

The Illinois State Board of Education has raised the performance expectations for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) as part of the state's ongoing effort to better prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century. The current ISAT performance expectations were not aligned to college and career readiness. However, the Prairie State Achievement Examination, a state mandated test administered in Grade 11 and aligned with the ACT (a national college admission examination), does provide a good indicator of college and career readiness.

These adjustments are intended to better align proficiency performance expectations with the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments that are scheduled for full implementation in 2014-15. They will take effect this spring with the administration of the 2013 ISATs. New cut scores will significantly raise proficiency benchmarks, and 20 percent of the questions included on the reading and math tests will be aligned with the new Common Core State Standards. (The remaining 80 percent will still be aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards that have been in place since 1997.)

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The higher expectations of the new standards are widely anticipated to result in far fewer students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math. It is important to note, however, that the downward shift in test scores that is expected to occur as a result of these changes will not mean that students know less than they did before, or are less capable than they were in previous years. Instead, it will mean that the bar has been raised for how well students must be prepared in order to keep them on the path to college and career readiness.

The adjustment of performance levels on the ISAT is needed to better inform administrators, teachers, parents, and students of students' progress toward college and career readiness, especially as we move toward implementation of the Common Core and the PARCC assessments that will replace the ISATs in school year 2014-15.

Visit the District's website for more information on 2013 ISAT changes: www.ccsd15.net | Our Services | Instructional Services | Standardized Testing | Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).

-Story Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15

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