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State Assessment and Accountability Task Force Seeks Input on Draft Assessment Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2002

Further information: 217/782-4648

After four public hearings and four day-long meetings, the Assessment and Accountability Task Force, created in September by State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller, is asking for public input on a draft assessment proposal.

Schiller assembled the Task Force to make recommendations for bringing Illinois into compliance with the new federal No Child Left Behind Act and to assure that Illinois’ assessment and accountability system provides useful information to schools, supporting their efforts to improve student achievement of the Illinois Learning Standards.

Comments and suggestions on the draft proposal may be submitted by December 6 to the Illinois State Board of Education, ATTN: Assessment and Accountability Task Force, 100 North First Street, Springfield 62777, or by fax to 217/524-4928 or email to feedback@isbe.net.

The Task Force has scheduled an additional public hearing December 2 in Galesburg at the High School Media Center, 1135 West Fremont Street. The full Task Force is scheduled to meet November 18 from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. in Springfield in the State Board Room at 100 North First Street and December 10 from 10:00 A. M. to 3:00 P.M. in Naperville at the North Central Regional Education Laboratory, 1120 East Diehl Road. Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed to complete recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly in the session that begins in January.

State Assessment Proposal
A DRAFT AS OF NOVEMBER 6, 2002

The Assessment and Accountability Task Force is charged to develop an appropriate, high quality statewide K-12 assessment system, based on the Illinois Learning Standards. The statewide assessment system shall have a high level of credibility, reliability, and validity and provide continuity from the current assessment system. The system must provide timely results (prior to the end of the school year) that are meaningful and educationally useful for educators, parents and the broader community. This system will place Illinois in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and create a useful tool to continuously improve student learning in relation to the Illinois Learning Standards. With this charge, the task force members' sense of direction is outlined in the text below and the following chart.

To accomplish the above purposes, it is proposed that:

  1. Between December 2002 and January 2003, the producers of norm-referenced tests most frequently used in Illinois schools will be invited to provide an analysis of the correlation between their test item bank used for their national norm-referenced test and the Illinois Learning Standards and draft performance descriptors in reading and math, grades 3-8, science at grades 4 and 7, and social science at grades 5 and 8.
  2. Between January–February 2003, independent researchers will be contracted to analyze the correlation studies prepared by the national test producers and to verify the conclusions.
  3. On or before March 2003, a Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued inviting the producers of the norm-referenced tests (especially whose products most closely align as described above, as determined by the independent evaluators), to provide a proposal to accomplish the following:
    1. the test producers, using their established reading and math norm-referenced test item bank for grades 4, 6, and 7, will augment their item bank with newly created items in order to create criterion-referenced tests aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards and draft performance descriptors in reading and math, follow with a similar process in social sciences in grades 5 and 8 (using Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) test items as applicable);
    2. the test producers, relying primarily but not exclusively on using the test item bank of the current ISAT reading and math test at grades 3, 5, and 8 will augment the item bank with test items in order to create new criterion-referenced tests aligned to Illinois Learning Standards and draft performance descriptors in reading and math at grades 3, 5, and 8, and science at grades 4 and 7; and
    3. all data bank items must be assembled in such a way that these tests are vertically equated on a continuous scale in order to show growth in student achievement from one year to the next year.
  4. On or about July 2003, a contract will be awarded via RFP to develop an enhanced ISAT ("ISAT 2006") criterion-referenced test for reading, math, science, social science and writing based on Illinois Learning Standards and draft performance descriptors. Reading and math will be at grades 3-8, science at grades 4 and 7, social sciences at grades 5 and 8, and writing at grades 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 (voluntary), and 11.

The Assessment and Accountability Task Force members will remain as technical/policy advisors so that the upcoming events (January-July 2003) will be reviewed by the task force prior to decision points.

Chart of Subject Matter and Grade-level Assessment Proposal

GRADE
2*
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11**
Required                    
Reading x x x x x x x     x
Math x x x x x x x     x
Writing***   x x   x   x     x
Science     x     x       x
Social Science       x     x     x
Voluntary                    
Explore*****             x x    
Plan*****                 x  
Writing                 x  

* In order to hold all schools accountable, school buildings which have second grade as their highest grade and are Title I funded must offer a standard assessment as required by the Illinois State Board of Education.

** The Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) is given at grades 11 in the noted subject areas. One component of the PSAE is the ACT; another is the WORK KEYS.

*** The writing assessment shall be sequenced at grades 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 (voluntary), and 11. Grade 3 students will write one expository essay; grade 4 students will write one essay in either the expository or persuasive mode; grades 6 and 8 students will write two essays in the expository, persuasive or narrative mode. Tenth grade students on a voluntary basis will write two essays in the expository, persuasive or narrative mode. Grade 11 students will write as part of the PSAE.

**** The Explore Test and the Plan Test are preparatory tests for the ACT. Both are broad tests of student learning, and assess students in reading, English, mathematics and science. The Explore Test is shown on the chart as voluntary at both grades 8 and 9. The intent is to allow school districts to decide which grade level would best fit the needs of their students. Some may choose to give the test at grade 8 for diagnostic purposes. Some may choose to give the test at grade 9 to fit into their high school program. The student should not take the same test in both grades 8 and 9. The Plan Test would be given voluntarily at Grade 10 to prepare for the ACT. These tests would be offered for local choice, to be used on a voluntary basis and at no cost to districts.