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At the request of Advance Illinois, an educational advocacy organization, Katie Bailey, president of the District 65 School Board, spoke to members of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on Feb. 21 about the benchmarks District 65 is using to assess student achievement.

She told ISBE that in August 2011, District 65 continued to review the percentage of students “meeting standards” on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT), but it also began to assess student growth using higher levels of proficiency: 1) grade level, defined as scoring at the 50th percentile, and 2) on track to college and career readiness. She said District 65 made these additional analyses using students’ scale scores on three tests: the ISATs, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, and EXPLORE. The data gives “an accurate picture of where our students are,” Ms. Bailey said.

“This knowledge guides our District – in teaching, instruction, professional development, management, and budgeting,” she added. “It is crucial to moving our students forward to be successful members of our community whether that is in college or trade school or to have a career when they graduate from high school.

“And our new goals and higher standards are aligned with high school standards,” said Ms. Bailey.

At the conclusion of Ms. Bailey’s remarks, ISBE Board President Gery Chico proposed that the Board provide a forum at an ISBE Board meeting in June at which District 65 “could talk a little more in depth about what you did. That’s refreshing what you talked about,” he said.

Ms. Bailey said Paul Zavitkovsky of the Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago and others had helped in the project. She told Mr. Chico that District 65 would be willing to provide additional information to the ISBE Board.