Ann B. from Illinois writes
Right now in my school we have one big standardized test: the Illinois Standard Achievement Test. We pore over the data and make instructional decisions based on any score deficits each school year. We make adjustments to the curriculum as far down as at the Kindergarten level. Our school has excellent test scores and has received several awards. In addition to this big standardized test, we give the AIMSweb Benchmark Test in reading and math three times per year. Students identified with deficits as a result of this test are worked with in small groups and are tested every ten days to monitor progress.
Now enter the despair. The Illinois State Board of Education has raised the cut scores on the ISAT test this spring. This will have a negative impact on our scores and we may not make adequate yearly progress.Students’ confidence levels will decrease as they see themselves labeled as under achieving. They are also going to include test questions aligned with the Common Core Standards this spring, even though we haven’t fully implemented the standards in our curriculum. Apparently the raised cut scores and Common Core questions will “help” us transition to the PARCC Assessment currently being developed. We have seen glimpses of sample questions from the PARCC assessment and they are mind boggling on many levels. The math questions contain immense amounts of reading, all on a computer screen. Data is to be manipulated and explanations are to be typed in. Many of the students in our high-poverty school still don’t have access to technology at home. This test will be administered three times per year and the logistics of testing in one computer lab three times per year will create a loss of instructional time and a scheduling nightmare. Test scores will be utilized for teacher and principal evaluations. The stakes are high and the consequences for our underfunded little school will be dire.