This morning’s Chicago Tribune reported the results of last spring’s ISAT tests (for those of you outside of Illinois these are the dreaded Illinois Standards Achievement Tests). Passing scores were increased recently supposedly to better prepare students for more difficult exams in the future. Just as expected, the passing rates fell just as the the Common Core became the law of the land (at least this part of the land).
The good news is that 2014 math scores are up slightly from 2013. The bad news is that reading scores are down slightly from the same time period. Although the Tribune received these scores from sources other than the Illinois State Board of Education, they are confident that they are accurate and ISBE will release the statewide scores after they meet to discuss them.
Hmmmm- so what does this mean? For this blogger, it probably doesn’t add up to a whole lot of anything. For one, it is impossible to tease out any useful information from one year’s data set, especially one that is trying to compare apples with oranges. In 2013, only a percentage of the test questions came from the Common Core whereas all were changed in 2014. This is not to mention that last spring was the LAST year students in the state will take the ISATs. They are done. The state has removed them in order to make room for another set of standardized tests.
I have a colleague who always says, “If you focus on something, it will change.” Is our focus on math in the state of Illinois responsible for this upturn? Does the focus on math shift learning away from reading? What does this mean for children who are in the middle of their school years? Are they at a disadvantage when all of these changes are taking place all around them? Are parents able to navigate understanding all of these requirements and new tests?
The more important question that we should all be asking is, “What does this say about learning and (if we have to have them) how can all of these tests create a framework to better understand the learning process in order to better serve ALL children?”