October 26, 2011
The Chicago Public Schools today took the first step toward aligning its testing tools with rigorous standards to better measure how well students are meeting benchmarks for college readiness. The new customized tests will provide teachers and administrators with the feedback they need to assess core skills students must master in order to not only to be admitted to college, but also to thrive in college and persist to graduation.
Beginning this spring, CPS students in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades will take the new tests which align with ACT and College Readiness Standards. In addition, CPS is convening a Design Committee of teachers and principals, which will meet several times during SY12 to collaboratively determine which College Readiness Standards should be assessed moving forward.
“We must provide our teachers and school leaders with the tools necessary to effectively evaluate their students, identify the critical areas where learning must improve, and take steps to better prepare their students for college,” Brizard said. “We are committed to honestly and critically evaluating the academic progress of our students so that we can boost student achievement and ensure all of our students graduate college ready.”
The Chicago Board of Education today approved entering into an agreement with Academic Approach LLC to provide interim assessment services at a cost of $250,000. The assessments will be of uniform quality -- and with uniform expectations -- throughout the district, and will replace the patchwork of area-level assessments CPS has most recently administered to students in those grades.
The new assessments:
- Will be designed for students in grades 9-10-11 in reading, math, science and English.
- Will be tailored precisely to the needs of this district, and characterized by very tight alignment to a common set of standards which, if mastered, will help our students not only gain admittance to college, but thrive in college coursework once they arrive.
- Will allow the District to leverage our district-wide purchasing power to spend less than we would if we purchased different assessments by Network.
“In the past, teachers have not been very involved in the process of creating the assessments that were used to gauge the mastery of their students, and they have often felt that these tests are being dropped on them at the last minute,” said Jennifer Cheatham, Chief of Instruction for CPS. “We want teachers to be a part of the process of developing a testing policy that helps them effectively evaluate the academic milestones their students are reaching or need to reach in order to succeed.”
The first assessment will be pushed back to the third quarter of this school year to ensure that teachers have the final product long before students need to start testing. The Design Committee of teachers and principals will meet several times during SY12 to decide which College Readiness Standards should be assessed, and how many questions should assess each of them. The resulting assessments will reflect critical teacher and principal input which, previous, off-the-shelf solutions have not.
CPS is also convening an Operations Committee of principals and teachers to meet several times during SY12 to explore concerns related to the administration of the assessments. This will give educators a chance to explain what kinds of problems they have encountered with previous district-wide assessments, and will give administrators a chance to identify and resolve any potential problems before they occur.
Principal and teacher feedback will be used to mold both tests and procedures for administering tests in the coming school year.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.