At the joint District 65/202 School Board meeting, administrators outlined the assessments they will use to measure progress toward meeting the Districts’ Joint Literacy Goal. The goal is that all students be proficient readers and college and career ready by the time they graduate from Evanston Township High School. The goal has a long-term, 12-year horizon.

The issue is complicated in part because assessments are in a state of flux. The Illinois State Board of Education will no longer administer the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) that has historically been given to third- through eighth-graders, and it will no longer administer the Prairie State Achievement Exam, which has been given to eleventh-graders. Also, the ACT has discontinued the EPAS system, so District 202 will no longer be able to measure growth between eighth and eleventh grades using the EXPLORE, Plan and ACT assessments.

Going forward the Districts will use the assessment being developed by PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. PARCC, a partnership of 19 states, is working together to develop a common set of computer-based assessments for grades 3-11 in English language arts/literacy and math linked to the Common Core State Standards. The PARCC assessments will be given to District 65 and 202 students for the first time in the 2014-15 school year.

In addition, District 65 will continue to use the Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy (ISEL) and the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). District 202 plans to start using the STAR assessment.

New PARCC Assessments

Districts 65 and 202 plan to use PARCC assessments to measure progress toward meeting the goal that all students be proficient readers and college and career ready when they graduate from ETHS.

An estimated 22 million students in the nation will take PARCC tests, so the Districts should be able to assess how students in Districts 65 and 202 are doing compared to students nationwide. In addition, researchers associated with PARCC plan to identify cut scores on the PARCC test that indicate whether third- through eighth-graders are on track to college and career readiness, and whether seniors in high school are college and career ready. Students who score above the cut score for their grade level would be viewed as being on track to college and career readiness.

A white paper commissioned by PARCC outlines various ways to define college and career readiness, as well as various ways to measure whether a student is on track to college and career readiness. The white paper says, “The explicit implication is that there should be a strong statistical relationship between performance on PARCC assessments, particularly high school assessments, and subsequent postsecondary success.”

A June 19 memo prepared by Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent of District 202, Demetra Disotuar, director of literacy of District 65, and Scott Bradley, associate principal for instruction and literacy at District 202, says, “Once these cut scores are established we will be able to externally measure our progress toward meeting the goal. Currently the state has funded use of PARCC in grades 3-8, and in one grade of high school which is to be determined. The state has also funded the ACT for 11th grade.”

The cut scores – and proficiency levels – that will be used by PAARC to indicate whether or not students are on track to college and career readiness have not yet been selected.

ISEL, MAP and STAR Assessments

District 65 will continue to use the Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy (ISEL) to monitor student progress at grades K-2. ISEL is designed to measure a student’s mastery of foundational skills in literacy. In addition students in grades K-3 will be assessed using an informal reading inventory. The test measures a student’s ability to read continuous text and helps teachers determine how to differentiate instruction.

For grades 3-8, District 65 will continue to use the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to monitor student growth. MAP will be administered to students at the beginning and end of each year. MAP’s reading test is a web-based, computer adaptive reading comprehension test which focuses on four domains including literary works, literature, vocabulary and work analysis, and comprehension and reading strategies. Students are given a RIT score (a scale score) and a percentile rank, which reflects how they scored compared to students nationwide. The MAP tests may also be used to measure a student’s growth during a school year, and to compare his or her growth to that of peers nationwide who started out the school year at the same level.

District 202 has decided to begin using the STAR Assessment as a universal screening tool in the 2014-15 school year. The STAR Reading Assessment is a web-based, adaptive reading comprehension assessment which focuses on the domains of work knowledge and skills, understanding an author’s craft, comprehension strategies, and constructing meaning, analyzing argument and evaluating text.

District 202 plans to use Student Growth Percentiles generated using the STAR test to measure student growth in reading during a school year, compared to other students in the nation who had the same starting score.

The STAR test typically takes only 20 minutes to complete, and scores and reports are instantly generated for the teacher, said Dr. Bavis.

Board Comments

District 65 Board member Katie Bailey asked if MAP and STAR are aligned, and if the Districts are considering using the same test.

Claudia Garrison asked if STAR is available at the elementary grade levels. From a teacher’s perspective, she said, this looks fabulous because it is fast and the results are provided instantaneously.

Mr. Bradley said STAR is available starting at the preschool level.

District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren said, “We’ll double down to see if we can use STAR, but we don’t want to over test our students.”

The Districts have not yet set benchmarks using ISEL, MAP or STAR to measure progress toward meeting the Joint Literacy Goal.