How state test score delays will impact St. Charles schools
The delay in receiving district-level scores from the new statewide tests based on Common Core learning standards means the data will be of little use for St. Charles teachers preparing for the next round of exams. And that's particularly troublesome given preliminary results of statewide scores showing most public school students falling below standards.
State officials pinpointed November for the release of district scores. But David Chiszar, executive director for assessment and accountability for St. Charles schools, said there are increasing fears the numbers may not be available until as late as January.
"It will definitely be more of a post-mortem," Chiszar said. "We'll be way into the next school year before we get the data."
Superintendent Don Schlomann told school board members this week he was particularly struck by the dearth of students achieving the highest math scores of "exceeding" standards in the statewide scores. Right now, there's no indication about how District 303 students performed, either individually or as a district.
Only about 20 percent of Illinois' high school students met or exceeded expectations on the math portion of the tests.
Students in lower grades didn't fare much better. That may signal the need for teachers to further customize learning for students across the state. But Schlomann said you can't do that until you see where students need to do better.
School board members expressed continuing frustration with the exam. The board passed a resolution last year decrying the change in state testing. The frustration stems from an inability to compare the new tests, known as PARCC, to the old exams or use the first round of PARCC tests as a baseline for future comparison. The barrier moving forward spawns from the mix of students taking the digital exam versus the paper version. The two tests can't be compared, and neither can the students taking the different versions.
In St. Charles, fifth- and sixth-graders and high school freshmen took the digital version of the exams. Third-, fourth-, seventh- and eighth-graders took a paper version. The district doesn't have enough computers to administer the exams to all students within the two-week testing time. There are no plans to spend a significant amount of money to add more computers this year.
For now, the plan is to have fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders, along with high school freshmen and sophomores, take the digital version this year. District officials say it will be at least three years before any valid year-to-year comparisons about the test can be made.
For school board members such as Ed McNally, those three years represent a frustrating waste of time.
"As a board," he said, "I think I can say we don't care a whole lot about PARCC."