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Rich: Understanding the data in D-58

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 4:20 p.m. CST
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Matt Rich

District 58 is committed to offering a rigorous, robust curriculum that promotes learning, growth, achievement and challenges for every student.

We are proud of the accomplishments of each child and the steps they take to improve each day in our schools. We are also extremely proud of the accomplishments of our district overall, highlighted by excellence in education in every area of learning.  

Each fall, the State of Illinois releases an annual report card that provides insight to parents and communities as to the general health of their school district by spotlighting data such as budget revenues and expenditures, demographic information and achievement data.

This tool offers some common data points by which to compare schools. However, the picture that is painted can also be limited in breadth and depth. 

In order to more accurately and meaningfully monitor student growth and learning, District 58 has developed a blended approach to assessing student growth and progress.

We utilize classroom assessments, state assessments, and national assessments to identify students’ current level of performance in a variety of areas and determine what steps we can take to help each child learn and grow.

Last week, the state released this year’s report card, which included last March’s ISAT data for grades 3-8. This state-required assessment measures student performance in reading and math (grades 3-8), as well as science (grades 4 and 7).

The report cards for schools and districts delineate the percentage of students who met or exceeded state standards. Additionally, parents are provided with ranking information regarding their child’s achievement on the ISAT. 

At our Curriculum Workshop on Oct. 28, we reviewed our curriculum initiatives, our continuous improvement efforts and our students’ performance on a variety of assessments.  

Once again this year, there is much to celebrate with regards to our students’ achievement and growth, which is a testament to the strong curriculum, excellent staff, hard-working students and strong community support in District 58.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

• District 58 students met or exceeded state standards on the ISAT at a rate of nearly 20 percent higher than the state average, and even greater than last year’s 15 percent differential with the state. 

• Growth was a new measure added to this year’s state report card and here again District 58 significantly outperformed the state average. This means District 58 students are academically much stronger than the state average and are growing at a more rapid pace than the state average.

• Strong math and reading performances indicate that District 58 students are ready for Common Core, and the district has been reviewing the item analysis provided by the ISAT related to Common Core.

• On the MAP assessment, District 58 students outperform the national mean in every area and in each grade level.   

• More significantly, by eighth grade District 58 students outperform the national 11th grade mean in all areas on the MAP assessment, including in Reading, Mathematics, and Language Usage.

• District 58 performed significantly better than the state as a result of the changes in cut scores and content of the ISAT test overall.

Because of the content and cutscore changes, this year’s ISAT scores are a standalone data point and cannot be directly compared with last year’s ISAT scores. 

The 2013 scores will not be directly comparable with the 2014 ISAT scores, either, as Illinois is currently in a transition resulting in annual changes to the assessment system.

In March 2014, our students will participate in an ISAT based solely on the Common Core Standards, which will change the content by 80 percent.  

The Common Core and new assessment mechanisms offer promise, as do blended approaches to data-informed instructional planning and student growth monitoring.

However, for a time trend data may be somewhat confusing for parents, community members and educators due to changing cut scores and content. As school districts work within these new parameters, we continue to strive to engage our students and staff in meaningful learning opportunities, and to ensure growth for every student through our rigorous and robust curricula and instruction.

For more information regarding the assessments in which District 58 students participate and how that data is used, please visit www.dg58.org/assessment.

Matt Rich is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Downers Grove Grade School District 58.

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