Illinois Parents: When you look at your child's ISAT test scores this spring they might be lower than normal. And there's a reason for it. In January, the Illinois State Board of Education raised the performance levels of the ISATS, those standardized tests given to Illinois elementary and middle students each Spring. As teachers and students prepare for a more rigorous testing system, educators say the new ISAT standards are geared to ready your student for college and career
In doing so, they also raised the cut-off scores, so if your child has previously scored in the "exceeding" range, they might be just in "meeting" this year. Monroe Elementary Principal Julie Stratman says not to worry; Your child's education level likely hasn't changed. It's just the test and number that has changed.
"If you notice that your child's score has gone down, don't get excited about it. Give the school a call," Stratman said.
Stratman says it's important to realize there is a change and the scores are going to look different.
Once the schools find out what the tests will consist of and how the students need to take them, the school will wrap develop a plan to help prepare the students.
With technology working its way into nearly every inch of our lives, Stratman says the new PARCC tests that will be replacing the ISAT could very well be on the computer.
Quincy's Monroe Elementary third grade teacher Marci Keller says whatever needs to be done, she will make sure she readies her students for these tests.
And Keller says sometimes that means practicing for the taking of the test itself to familiarize students with the format it's in so that they can focus on the answers and not how to take the test.
"How to bubble things in. The way in which a question might be worded. The format in which they might write an answer. So you know, instead of having just regular lined notebook paper they might have grid paper instead," Keller said.
The new PARCC test will make its full debut in the 2014-2015 school year and it's set to align better with the common core standards, which the school is already using to teach. Stratman said the standards are excellent and the new tests should better prepare the students for the ACT and PSAT tests they'll be taking in high school so that when they get there, it isn't so much of a shock for them. She says they should seamlessly streamline and once they take tests like the ACT, they'll be used to it.
This PARCC test will actually be given more often than the current ISAT: Three times a year as opposed to just once. And the schools will get faster results so the parents don't have to wait several months to find out how their children are scoring.
The state says these new cut-scores will give a more accurate indication of whether a student is on course for college and a career.
For now, students will continue to take the ISATs until the PARCC is out. Once that test comes out it will replace the ISAT completely.
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