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Article posted: 11/4/2013 12:27 PM

Dist. 200 test scores reflect 21st-century learning

Brian Harris

Brian Harris

 
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By Brian Harris

Earlier this year, the Illinois State Board of Education determined that the proficiency expectations in the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test for students in grades three through eight were too low and did not give an accurate representation of a student's ability to succeed in college or a career.

The state board also approved raising the bar on the ISAT performance expectations in reading and math for elementary and middle school students. Specifically, the state raised the scores needed to "meet" or "exceed" the ISAT standards to better align with the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards.

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The content of the ISAT also changed to include 20 percent of questions aligned with Common Core. Next year, 100 percent of the ISAT will be aligned with Common Core.

I am pleased to report that after reviewing Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 student performance data, we see that the percent of our students meeting or exceeding standards on ISAT was 23.7 percent more than the state.

School districts across the country also saw another change this year in the reporting of student data as it relates to the ACT.

Beginning this year, composite scores for school districts include students who were given extended time to complete the test. The composite score for the Class of 2013 is 23.5 -- which is significantly higher than the state composite score of 20.6.

Had the scores of students given extended time been excluded again, the composite ACT score for the Class of 2013 would have been 24.2 -- a .2 increase from the previous year, indicating that our students are achieving at very high levels.

At District 200, we believe all students can learn beyond expectations and that each student deserves a challenging, rigorous and comprehensive curriculum. Toward that end, for the past several years, our district has been using higher internal cut scores for ISAT based on in-district research aligning ISAT to the ACT.

As a result, a student's classroom experience has included more informational text and a greater emphasis on real-world math application, thus preparing them to do well on standardized tests.

The recent performance data on the ISAT and ACT is indicative of the 21st-century teaching and learning happening in our classrooms. Our ongoing target in District 200 is to prepare all students to attend a college of their choice or pursue a career they desire.

As we continue to improve instruction and raise the level of learning required, we expect to realize even more improvement in student achievement.

As an example, we continue to expand and promote our Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South high schools. In fact, last year 44 percent of graduating high school students scored a "3" or higher on at least one AP test.

This also coincides with a significant increase in AP participation at both schools. We have received national recognition by the College Board for this impressive performance.

In the 2014-15 school year, ISBE will replace the ISAT with a new assessment that is fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Through ongoing professional development with our staff; challenging, new district assessments for students; constant review of student assessment data; and continued emphasis on advanced placement courses, we believe all of our students will be fully prepared to be successful on the new assessment next school year and in their future college or career endeavors.

For further information about student achievement in District 200, I invite you to visit our website at www.cusd200.org. On Sept. 25, our staff presented a comprehensive review of student achievement data to our board of education. The community can review the video and presentation slides that were presented at that meeting.

In the near future, our individual school report cards and school improvement summaries will also be available on the district website under Parents & Students, School Report Cards.

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