In an effort to enhance state assessments for elementary and middle-schoolers, the Illinois State Board of Education is contemplating a variety of potential updates to its present testing system, a spokesperson for the company informed the RoundTable this week.
Although a particular proposal just isn’t but on the desk, attainable changes embody shifting to extra frequent, shorter intermittent assessments all year long somewhat than one lengthy and demanding evaluation on the finish of every spring. Additionally, different choices are merely shortening the end-of-year examination, computerizing the test-taking course of to ship outcomes extra rapidly and providing extra individualized scholar assessments.
But any formal changes to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, which measures math and language arts expertise for college students in third by way of eighth grade, must be allowed by federal regulation and permitted by the U.S. Department of Education first, in accordance with Jackie Matthews, ISBE’s government director of communications.
“We have consistently received feedback from Illinois schools that the current assessment takes too long, delivers results too late and adds too much undue stress to students and educators,” Matthews mentioned. “This past fall, ISBE began conducting extensive statewide outreach to get feedback from teachers, school administrators, parents, and students about how we can improve the federally required state assessment system.”
As half of that outreach, ISBE additionally surveyed greater than 5,000 folks throughout the state to be taught extra about public opinion concerning standardized testing and the IAR. Of the respondents, 75% mentioned they weren’t glad with the present state evaluation system, whereas 50% additionally replied that the testing wanted “substantial change.” Meanwhile, when requested how they might really feel about a number of shorter assessments as a substitute of one longer end-of-year evaluation, 60% of survey members mentioned they might assist such a system, whereas 20% mentioned they might be in opposition to it and the remaining 20% was undecided.
Of course, a survey of 5,000 folks doesn’t characterize a very giant portion of the inhabitants in a state like Illinois, though getting a statistically-accurate pattern measurement is tough when conducting any survey. According to ISBE annual enrollment information, Illinois has greater than 1.3 million public faculty college students in kindergarten by way of eighth grade, and the state public training system additionally contains the third-largest public faculty district within the nation in Chicago Public Schools.
Matthews additionally informed the RoundTable that ISBE has held 12 focus teams in latest months to assemble suggestions from stakeholders on the perfect methods to enhance the present testing system. ISBE officers are planning to current the outcomes of these discussions to state board representatives at their subsequent assembly on April 20.
One particularly controversial subject within the general testing dialog is the thought of increasing the IAR to incorporate college students in kindergarten by way of second grade, as effectively. According to Matthews, 78% of Illinois faculty districts already spend their very own cash to manage assessments for that age group, so ISBE additionally used its survey to ask about instituting a statewide optionally available evaluation for these youngest college students. Of respondents, 25% had been undecided and the rest had been break up evenly between supporting and opposing that concept.
“We’re opposed to any testing for kindergarten through second graders,” mentioned Kathi Griffin, the president of the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest academics’ union. “As far as interim testing goes, it’s something that may work but only if it replaces the additional tests that many districts administer that are not needed for our state to receive federal education funding.”
When it involves paying to evaluate college students, particular person districts and the state spend hundreds of thousands every year on contracts with testing companies. Matthews informed the RoundTable that ISBE is hoping to take care of or cut back the present degree of spending on standardized assessments, presumably by changing the extra assessments that particular person districts at the moment pay for themselves.
A spokesperson for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the district’s opinion on the IAR and the way it will really feel in regards to the potential changes that ISBE is mulling over.
But based mostly on preliminary reactions from IEA and others, ISBE will face loads of opposition if it plans to institute extra frequent testing throughout the state.
“We want to be clear: More testing is not the answer. More testing does not mean better educated students or better schools,” Griffin mentioned. “Too much testing does mean teachers are forced to spend valuable classroom time preparing for and administering tests instead of working with our students to meet their academic and social/emotional needs.”