October 18, 2013
CHICAGO — The Chicago Public Schools today (CPS) unveiled a new elementary school promotion policy for students entering grades 3, 6 and 8. This policy change is being proposed in order to better align with more rigorous state assessments, as well as to create a more well-rounded picture of student progress and needs by considering both grades and performance for student promotion. This revised policy will go before the board for approval at its monthly meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, October 23rd.
The current promotion policy is no longer consistent with state requirements and must be updated. The state changed the format of Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) for School Year 2013-2014 (SY13-14), so that it now aligns with the Common Core State Standards. Scores derived from the SAT10, which were comprised of the first 30 items on the old version of the ISAT, were previously used as the performance lever under the current promotion policy. However, due to the changes of this year's ISAT, the SAT10 no longer exists. CPS is adopting the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) to replace the SAT10 as the tool to be considered, in conjunction with student grades, for promotion decisions in critical grades of 3, 6, and 8.
"This new policy will better prepare and support students during elementary school to get them on a path for success in college, career and life," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "As the District adopts more rigorous assessment standards, we must provide teachers with better tools to measure academic progress and identify where intervention is necessary to provide students with the individual supports they need to reach their full potential."
In addition to a cross-departmental steering committee that was charged with crafting the proposed changes to the elementary promotion policy, CPS also engaged various stakeholders through focus groups comprised of teachers, principals, parents and various community-based organizations.
Under this new policy, a three-tiered level achievement model will be introduced, moving from a two-tiered model, guaranteeing that a wider range of student needs are identified and proper supports are provided throughout the year to prepare them for all future grade levels. The new achievement levels will allow teachers to better evaluate student needs and build a more focused curriculum based on their individual needs.
Implemented in School Year 2012-2013 (SY12-13), the NWEA is currently administered to students in Grades 3-8 at the beginning and in the spring of the school year, and to Grade 2 students only in the spring. As the common assessment used throughout the District, NWEA will serve as a far more accurate indicator of student readiness for grade promotion and will align with national standards of achievement. The added rigor of NWEA, coupled with a more accurate achievement level model, will better gauge the need for summer school intervention. Furthermore, summer school instruction will now be tailored to individual student needs, versus a one-size-fits-all approach, enabling teachers to deliver more powerful instruction to students.
Additionally, the NWEA will be considered in promotion decisions until the state implementation of the Partnership for Assessing Readiness in College (PARCC), a strong index of college readiness, expected to be in place by Spring 2015. The District will continue to engage parents and families for feedback on criteria used in promotion and retention decisions to next grade level.
This revised policy aligns directly with the vision of CEO Byrd-Bennett's Strategic Five-Year Action Plan. By positioning teachers and school leaders to better identify student needs, instruction will reflect the expectations of both the Common Core State Standards and the pillars that support the next generation of Chicago's children.