Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released preliminary score reports for this spring’s PARCC assessment. Here are five important points to understand about these scores.
- The scores are only preliminary. The scores are aggregated at the state level, and school districts have not yet checked the data to eliminate duplicate student records or other inconsistencies. These statewide scores may change once the data has been cleaned up.
- The scores are out earlier this year. The 2015 PARCC assessment was the first time it was used. As a result, scoring the test also required determining what the benchmarks were for the five score levels on each question. That delayed both the initial release of scores and the individual student scores. The final student scores will be included in the Illinois Report Card release on October 30, compared to December 11 last year. Your individual student’s score report will be provided by your school district in the next month or so.
- The scores are an honest assessment of student achievement. The preliminary scores show that statewide, 36.2% of students are meeting the English/Language Arts Illinois Learning Standards and 30.5% are meeting the Math Illinois Learning Standards. These scores are in line with the ACT’s most recent report on college readiness, other student assessments, and remedial courses taken by college students. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the definition of school accountability is returned to the states. It is up to the citizens of Illinois to ensure that the state does not lower standards to show success and continues to provide an honest measure of student and school success.
- ISBE’s PARCC Place is your source for assessment information. ISBE has collected a variety of resources and new for educations, families, students, and administrators at PARCC Place. Use PARCC Place to find out what is happening with assessment in Illinois and how to interpret your student’s and your school’s results.
- PARCC is changing again next year. The 2016 PARCC assessment reflected feedback from school districts, educators, and families, moving from two testing windows to one and reducing the amount of testing time. The PARCC assessment will be changing again in 2017, with only grades 3 through 8 taking the PARCC and high school students taking the SAT instead. One reason for this change is the complications of administering a class-based assessment at the high school level where students taking the Algebra II assessment could be freshman, seniors, or in between. A second reason is the US Department of Education’s determination that Illinois’s decision to allow school districts to decide whether to use the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade assessments in their district violated No Child Left Behind’s requirement that all high school students take the same assessment. Third, the College Board changed the SAT in the spring of 2016 to align with the Common Core State Standards, which are essentially identical to the Illinois Learning Standards, making the SAT an applicable assessment for the high school level. Finally, both ISBE and citizens from across Illinois felt that it was important that the state provide every high school student with a college entrance exam, especially after no such exam was provided by the state in 2016 due to the state budget crisis.
President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December. ESSA reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and made substantial changes to the previous version of the law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Many of these changes focused on moving responsibility for improving education from the federal government back to the states.
These changes were discussed in a workshop at the National PTA Convention focused on the law’s effects on family engagement, accountability, and assessment. The law calls for parent input on many of the requirements, and Illinois PTA is helping to provide that voice. A new website called Understanding ESSA helps to explain the details of ESSA and to track its implementation.
The website allows you to:
ESSA will significantly change how schools interact with families, how schools educate children, and how schools are held accountable. Check out Understanding ESSA to help follow these changes and use the Education News tag on the right-hand side of One Voice Illinois to find Illinois PTA’s information on ESSA and other education issues.
It’s been said that the first secret to success is showing up. That is certainly true for children attending school. Research indicates that missing 10% of the school year—just two or three days each month—can translate into third-graders unable to read, sixth-graders failing classes, and ninth-graders dropping out of high school. Yet many families, students, and schools do not realize how critical attendance is to academic success, as nearly 1 in 10 students miss that much school each year.
Attendance Works has created a Count Us In! Toolkit to help school administrators, teachers, PTAs, community groups, and local leaders who care about children’s success communicate the importance of school attendance during Attendance Awareness Month in September. There are several ways that PTAs can get involved in spreading the word.
This year’s Attendance Awareness Campaign has nine key messages that your PTA can share:
- Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace.
- Excused and unexcused absences quickly add up to too much time lost in the classroom.
- Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days.
- Chronic absence, missing 10 percent or more of the school year does not just affect the students who miss school.
- Educators and families need to monitor how many days each student misses school for any reason—excused, unexcused, or suspensions—so we can intervene early.
- Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community works with families and schools.
- Relationship building is fundamental to any strategy for improving student attendance.
- Reducing chronic absence can help close the achievement gap.
- Map and address the attendance gap.
You can read more on each of these key messages and share them through a printable PDF as well. Improving school attendance is critical to helping further PTA’s mission to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
Illinois has been revising its learning standards from the old 1997 standards to encompass what our children need to know to be successful in the 21st century. New standards for Math, English/Language Arts, Science, Social Science, and Physical Education have been revised in recent years. This summer, new Arts Learning Standards have been adopted and approved.
The new Arts Learning Standards were created by Illinois educators in an 18-month process coordinated by Arts Alliance Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). These new standards reflect the needs of Illinois students, incorporate best practices in arts education, and honor the diversity of school districts across the state. The new standards recognize the role the arts play in developing critical thinking, effective communication, broad-based collaboration, and creative problem solving.
The new standards will be in effect for the 2018-2019 school year and focus on five areas:
Each of these five focus areas have standards tied to creating, producing, responding, and connecting with the arts.
As part of the process of developing the new standards, an interactive website was created to provide information and resources on the New Illinois Arts Learning Standards, including a comprehensive report on the process of developing the standards. With these new standards, Illinois becomes a national leader in arts education.