January 23, 2013
As Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), my primary goal is to make sure all of children are capable of success. We must hold high expectations for each of them. It is our responsibility to ensure they receive the supports needed to succeed in college, career and life.
To prepare our students for higher learning, all public schools in the State of Illinois, including CPS, recently began implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards were adopted by 45 states and they describe what students are expected to learn at every grade level to be prepared for college.
Based on these new standards, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will raise the performance levels of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) for elementary and middle school students (grades 3-8) beginning this school year. These new performance levels will align with the more rigorous CCSS in English, language arts and math.
What does this mean for your child?
By raising the bar on the ISAT, it is likely that scores for students may decrease. In many cases, some students who previously met or exceeded standards on the ISAT will instead show the need for improvement.
However, even if scores do drop for your child, it does not mean they know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. ISBE is simply raising the bar on the ISAT in order to align it more closely with standards that better indicate if students are on a path for college and career-readiness.
ISAT testing begins March 4, 2013. As we receive the results of the revised statewide tests, your school staff will be able to provide the appropriate support and help for your child based on the new learning standards, if necessary.
Though ISAT testing may be more challenging this year than in the past, the new higher standards will better position all CPS students for a successful future in college and career.
These changes also pave the way for the state to replace the ISAT tests in math and English language arts with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. The PARCC exams will line up with the Common Core State Standards and provide better information about students’ abilities to master the critical thinking skills needed for college. The new PARCC tests are scheduled to begin in the 2014-2015 school year.
Throughout the coming weeks and leading up to this year’s ISAT testing, CPS will be providing parents with information on what this means for your children and how to best prepare for this change in expectations and scoring. For more information on the Common Core, please visit http://www.isbe.net/common_core/default.htm or http://www.commoncoreil.org/.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools