Area school districts join together to warn parents that their child's Illinois test scores are probably going to drop by a lot. Schools say they are actually happy it's happening despite the fall-out.
Rockford Public Schools joined with Harlem, Hononegah and Belvidere to let parents know state standards have changed.
"It's really important that they understand that their child knows less or is less proficient but that the bar has been raised. It's like having a grading scale go from 90 to 100 being an A to all of a sudden it's 95 to 100," says Dr. Barb Browning, Harlem Schools assistant superintendent.
That rise in the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) standards means it will be harder for students to hit the important "meets expectations" goals. The State of Illinois says overall ISAT scores went from 82-percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations to only 62-percent this year. The other reason for the large drop the test itself has changed.
"For the past decade kids in high school have been taking a different test than they took in elementary school and it's looked like students in elementary school were achieving higher results than they did in high school. What this does is it levels the playing field and gives us a perspective in elementary school of how kids are going to do in high school and after high school," says Dan Woestman, Rockford Schools, assistant superintendent of accountability.
Part of the idea is to move kids away from just memorizing information and instead teaching them how to apply what they've learned. Educators hope this will help get kids the help they need sooner.
"We think if we can provide interventions at a lower grade level that we are going to have higher graduation rates, lower drop out rates," says Woestman.
School leaders hope the new testing will help produce better qualified students.
"We have jobs that are available but we don't have people with all the skill set required to be able to do those jobs and it's an expectation that we should have of K-12 education that our students will be if not work-ready, able to get work-ready in short order," says Michael Houselog, Belvidere Schools, superintendent.
Parents will get their children's state test scores in October.
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