FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2003
5-YEAR ISAT TEST DATA SHOW MIXED RESULTS
Math scores up, achievement gaps narrow; but reading scores
Little movement in 3-year high school scores; overall
results "not acceptable" says State Superintendent
Five-year assessment data for Illinois elementary school
students show an upward trend in mathematics in all grades
tested, a narrowing in the achievement gap in many subjects
and grade levels for black, Hispanic and low-income students
and improvement in the achievement of students in bi-lingual
and special education programs, the Illinois State Board of
Education reported today. But the results also show little
movement in elementary school reading scores and little improvement
over three years in all subjects tested at the 11th grade
"Overall, these results are not acceptable. We need
to see accelerated improvement. There just aren't enough students
meeting state standards," said Robert E. Schiller, State
Superintendent of Education. Schiller released the statewide
scores on the 2003 Illinois Standards Achievement Exam (ISAT),
given to elementary school students, and the Prairie State
Achievement Exam (PSAE), given to high school juniors, at
a Springfield news conference.
"The results are mixed," Schiller said. "For
the first time, we have five years of results on the ISAT
- numbers that can legitimately be described as showing a
trend. The trend is encouraging in mathematics and not so
encouraging in reading. Overall, though, student performance
is flat and we can't be pleased."
"The narrowing of the achievement gaps is very good
news, because the state board has emphasized addressing this
problem for several years," said Dr. Janet Steiner of
Carlinville, ISBE chair, "but clearly there is still
much work to be done in many areas."
The most recent state test was given in April. Elementary
school students are tested in reading, writing and mathematics
in grades three, five and eight and in science and social
science in grades four and seven. Eleventh graders are tested
in reading, writing, math, science and social science as part
of the Prairie State exam, which also includes the ACT test
and two ACT Work Keys assessments.
In these specific areas, the results showed:
ISAT MATH: The 5-year trend data shows continuous increases
at all grade levels, with the percentage of students meeting
or exceeding state standards moving from 68.3 to 75.7 in
grade three, 55.6 to 68.3 in grade five and 42.9 to 53.1
in grade eight.
NARROWING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAPS: In numerous subjects and
grade levels, black, Hispanic and low-income students showed
significant improvement in narrowing the achievement gap
with white students. Particularly positive trends are seen
for black students in third grade math, where the gap narrowed
from 43.8 to 39.6 and seventh grade science (41.6 to 34.5);
for Hispanic students in third grade math (26.9 to 19.1),
fifth grade math (37.4 to 26.0), fourth grade science (41.1
to 33.4), seventh grade science (31.0 to 24.6), third grade
writing (21.6 to 17.5) fifth grade writing (241. to 17.4)
and eighth grade writing (28.9 to 17.0); and for low-income
students in fifth grade math (37.4 to 31.0)
IMAGE TEST: The Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English
is given to non-English-speaking students. Scores improved
from 2002 to 2003 at virtually every grade and subject tested.
Notable increases included eighth grade reading (18.5 to
31.3), fifth grade math (22.1 to 32.1), and eighth grade
writing (28.2 to 39.5).
IAA TEST: The Illinois Alternate Assessment is taken by
students with significant disabilities. Notable increases
are seen in third grade reading (44.7 to 59.0), fifth grade
reading (42.9 to 57.0), eleventh grade writing (24.1 to
39.9) and seventh grade science (28.2 to 43.2).
ISAT READING: Five-year scores are flat in grades three
(61.3 in 1999, 62.0 in 2003) and five (60.3-60.4) and down
in grade eight (72.2-63.7).
PRAIRIE STATE TEST: From 2001-03, the percentage of students
meeting or exceeding standards fell in reading (57.5 to
56.4), math (53.9 to 53.3), writing (59.0 to 58.9) and social
science (57.8 to 56.2). It increased slightly in science
(50.2 to 51.3).
Schiller identified the key to improving student performance
on statewide assessments.
"The State Board of Education has established high level
standards and its job is to administer the tests that measures
student achievement against those standards and inform the
public about how our children are learning. For students to
do well on state assessments, their curriculum must be aligned
with the state standards. It is as simple as that. I believe
flat performance on the ISAT and the PSAE can be attributed
in large part to that alignment not being present in enough
Illinois schools," he said.
of a longitudinal study conducted last year for ISBE by
University of Illinois researchers indicated that the number
of districts that have aligned their curriculum with the Illinois
Learning Standards has reached a plateau and seems to be "stuck"
at the present time. By the same token, the same study indicates
we are beginning to see a causal relationship between those
schools that implement the standards and improved performance
on the state assessments, Schiller said.
The test results take on added meaning in this and coming
years in connection with the requirements of the federal No
Child Left Behind legislation. The reading and math results
will be used to calculate "Adequate Yearly Progress"
under the law and identify Title I schools that must offer
school choice and Supplemental Educational Services.
This week, the state board's test contractor sent all the
school districts in the state their 2003 school-by-school
test data for review. The districts have 45 days from receipt
to inform the state board of any corrections they believe
should be made. Districts have until October 31 to share the
report card information with their communities.
Based on the preliminary data, schools that likely will be
required to offer choice when school begins this year are
being alerted to that effect this week by ISBE. A final and
complete list of such schools will be released by ISBE later
this summer, Schiller said.
Data charts for all grades and subjects tested can be viewed