Quincy's ISAT results expected to drop due to state raising cut scores

Posted: Sep. 9, 2013 11:16 pm Updated: Sep. 24, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy School Board's Curriculum Committee was told Monday night to expect lower test scores from last spring's Illinois Standards Achievement Test for the district's third through eighth graders.

Those results will be available to the public in late October when the annual Illinois Interactive Report Card is released by the State Board of Education. Illinois school districts already have been forwarded the information.

Carol Frericks, secondary education director for the Quincy School District, told the Curriculum Committee the lower ISAT results are the result of the State Board of Education raising the cut scores -- the designated line of comparison between students meeting or exceeding predetermined requirements, and those who are not.

"This change is similar to changing a grading scale and requiring higher scores to earn a specific letter grade," Frericks said.

The ISAT is given to all Illinois third through eighth graders each spring. The change in the ISAT policy was to better align that test with the Prairie State Achievement Exam given to all juniors. The feeling is raising the bar in lower grades will better permit administrators, teachers and parents to gain a better idea of students' progress toward success in college or the work force after high school graduation.

"We will (now) know sooner whether or not kids are on track for college and careers," Frericks said. "We also will be able to provide the appropriate supports and interventions for students at an earlier point in their academic career."

School districts across the state are all expected to have lower ISAT scores.

Quincy School Board member Jeff Mays, who chairs the Curriculum Committee, said, "The scores will look like a significant drop because of the higher cut scores. We're right at the state average, but being average is not great.

"This is all good information to have, and now we have to do something with it."

In recent months, Curriculum Committee has been holding a series of discussions involving the common core state standards being adopted in most Illinois schools. The standards -- being employed by Illinois and 45 other states -- lay out a detailed set of skills students are expected to achieve in various subjects at various grade levels.

The goal is to establish a "common core of knowledge" that all students will have upon graduation, a goal Mays feels will also eventually help raise the ISAT scores.