Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Test Raises Bar for Illinois Schools

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Test Raises Bar for Illinois Schools

Article excerpt

Search the St. Louis Post-Dispatch database for results for all public schools and districts in Madison and St. Clair counties.

Eight months after Illinois students took a new, more rigorous test based on the controversial Common Core standards, district and school administrators are just getting a look at the results.

Overall, most school districts in Madison and St. Clair counties did worse than the state average in English and math on the test developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Districts in Edwardsville, Mascoutah, O'Fallon and Highland were among those who were above the state average for students meeting or exceeding expectations in both math and English, according to results made public Friday by the Illinois State Board of Education.

The high-poverty districts of East St. Louis and Brooklyn continue to struggle, posting the worst scores in Illinois on English tests and also ranking among the bottom in math.

Not only were the results of the test slow in coming, some parents may be alarmed to see their students posting low scores. State and local school leaders stress that the scores are not comparable to previous percentages on old tests because the exam is different. The 2015 scores will be a new baseline for measuring student progress.

"These results do not mean our students know less or are less capable," said Lynda Andre, superintendent of the Edwardsville School District. "The bar has been raised for the type of skills and knowledge students must possess before moving onto the next grade level."

Two consortiums developed Common Core-aligned assessments for several states last year. Illinois is one of 11 states and the District of Columbia that administered a test by PARCC. Missouri was part of Smarter Balanced, which developed tests for 18 states.

The new exams ask students to demonstrate and apply what they know, rather than recite facts and fill in a bubble for the correct answer. The test lines up with the updated Illinois Learning Standards, based on the Common Core, to measure students' problem- solving abilities, critical thinking and writing skills.

Among the changes is an additional performance level for individual student scores for those who are considered "approaching" state standards, but not failing. …

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