In school districts throughout Illinois, the advent of March signifies not just the coming of spring, but the time when third through eighth grade students participate in the annual rite of passage provided by the state, the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).Like thousands of students before them, the young boys and girls sharpen their #2 pencils, reach for their scratch paper, and answer questions in reading, mathematics and science.
Schools will begin receiving the results in August and September, with parents and students receiving the data a month or so later.
The ISAT is a summative assessment, one that ranks our children by what they know and are able to do in March of a particular year. This year, 20 percent of the test content was based upon the new Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English-language arts.
In addition to a significant amount of new material, the achievement lines also have been raised substantially this year. Many children who scored in the “exceeds standards” category in previous years will only achieve “meets standards” this year, and many children who have met standards in the past will be ranked as below standards this year.
This does not mean our students are less capable or prepared than they were in previous years. In fact, they are increasingly better prepared for the rigor of the Common Core, as we have already taken steps to review and revise each of our curricular components and to increase our academic expectations of all students throughout our district.
While the ISAT has been an assessment that District 58 has relied upon in the past, the data it provides has not helped our students and staff adapt the learning experiences for students in a timely fashion.
This school year, we have begun utilizing the digital MAP (Measurement of Annual Progress) assessment with half of our schools, and plan to launch MAP at the remaining schools this fall. We are excited to use a standardized assessment in a way that can promote and support student achievement!
For more information about the MAP assessments, check out our video at www.dg58.org.
Matthew Rich, Ed.D., is Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Downers Grove Grade School District 58.