Changes coming to standardized tests

Published 09/04 2013 05:58PM

Updated 09/04 2013 06:19PM

SPRINGFIELD -- School districts are sharing student ISAT test scores, but parents and students could be disappointed. Some students could fall into a lower performance level because of changes to Illinois' learning standards. While that might seem like a bad thing, it's all because Illinois raised the bar for learning in 2010. WCIA-3's Alexandrea Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Educators say parents should not be alarmed if they see a drop in their child's ISAT test scores. They say Illinois' learning standards are tougher than before and it's going to take some getting used to.

Anne Morris coordinates the learning and testing of students in Springfield's District 186.

"Standards are rigorous and tests we are giving students must match the standards that are being taught in the classrooms."

Morris says, the goal is to have students exceeding or meeting the learning standards. But, this year, some students saw a drop in their scores. She says it's likely because the test is more difficult.

"If your student maybe fell into a lower performance level, it's not because your student knew less or your school wasn't performing as well. It's just simply that the bar has been raised."

The State Board of Education adopted new learning standards based on the Common Core in 2010. Matt Vanover, with ISBE says, since then, school districts have been incorporating these changes into classrooms.

"We've had a multi-year approach to implementing those new learning standards, what are effectively English, language, arts and mathematics."

This past March was the first time the higher-standards were implemented into the test.

"We have to have that bar set so that our students and teachers are prepared for implementing the Common Core which is what we are doing right now, but then, also, as the new tests come online, students are ready for it and they're being tested on it already."

Even though students might struggle with the tougher curriculum, Vanover says the changes should eventually prepare them for college or the workforce and to compete for jobs globally.

"These learning standards are bench-marked on an international level so that we know what's going on in some of the higher performing countries in the world."

The last time the learning standards were updated in Illinois was 1997. Illinois is transitioning to a different test. The ISAT will be used again this school year, but the 2014-15 test will be the "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career Assessments."

The PARCC test consists of multiple choice and open-ended questions. Students will take these assessments from 2nd - 12th grades. They'll be given four times a year.

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