Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vast Majority of Illinois Students Fail New Test, Preliminary Results Show

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vast Majority of Illinois Students Fail New Test, Preliminary Results Show

Article excerpt

Preliminary results suggest the vast majority of Illinois's public school students are not passing new and tougher standardized exams aligned with the Common Core learning standards.

No more than 38 percent of students in grades three through 11 met or exceeded expectations in English, and no more than 36 percent met or exceeded expectations in math, according to results of the spring exams released Wednesday by the Illinois State Board of Education.

"We are going to learn a lot from this assessment," State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith told reporters Tuesday in a conference call. "Where we need to provide additional support for kids, where we need to provide additional content."

Results are broken down by grade level, and only reflect the performance of those who took the test online. About a quarter of Illinois public school students took test in paper form, or took the Spanish or braille versions.

Last week, Smith wrote to school administrators across the state and said the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency on the more rigorous tests would likely be lower than in previous years.

"Please let everyone in your communities know that we fully expect results to improve as teachers and students become more familiar with the higher standards," Smith wrote in the Sept. 11 letter. "These initial results are simply a new baseline from which we can move forward. I do not want anyone to use these results to shame teachers or schools."

Illinois is one of 11 states and Washington, D.C., that administered a new test developed by PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The consortium is one of two that developed Common Core-aligned assessments for several states last year. Missouri was part of the other testing consortium, Smarter Balanced, which developed tests for 18 states.

In Illinois, preliminary test results were consistent in elementary and middle school grades in English and math, with a range of 34 percent to 38 percent demonstrating proficiency or better in English, and 26 percent to 31 percent showing the same grasp of math. Thirty-one percent of high schoolers who took the online test met or exceeded expectations in English, while 17 percent met expectations in math.

School and district-level results are not yet available. They are expected to be ready this fall.

The tests replaced the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

As more states roll our their results, they will be able to compare how effective their schools and districts are. Illinois, for example, will be able to see how well its schools stack up to those in Massachusetts, Ohio and Colorado. Missouri will be able to compare its schools to those in states such as Oregon, Connecticut and California.

The comparisons are expected to jump start conversations among state education officials about how to improve teaching and learning. …

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