News update: ISBE wants more state tests; Recess advocacy toolkit for parents

ISBE to move ahead with 3x/year state test despite backlash

Chalkbeat reported last week that the IL State Board of Ed wants to move ahead with a new state test for the 2022-2023 school year that they’ll pilot for two years while students also take the current IAR state test.

The new test would be what testing companies call an "interim" or “benchmark” test—administered three times a year—instead of a once-a-year summative test like the existing IAR. This is bad news as ample research has shown commercial interim tests are not educationally beneficial, and attaching high-stakes compounds the drawbacks.

As a leader in the area of evidence-based research in education, the late Johns Hopkins professor Robert Slavin wrote about this type of testing:

Research finds that benchmark assessments do not make any difference in achievement. …In a rational world, these findings would put an end to benchmark assessments, at least as they are used now. The average outcomes are not just small, they are zero. They use up a lot of student time and district money… Interim assessments fall into the enormous category of educational interventions that are simple, compelling and wrong. Yes, teachers need to know what students are learning and what is needed to improve it, but they have available many more tools that are far more sensitive, useful, timely, and tied to actions teachers can take.

The national Center for Assessment has been working with ISBE on their plan. You can see the slides from the Center’s presentation at a recent ISBE meeting where they discuss the challenges of this plan here. (See slides 10-13; watch the meeting here.)

Unfortunately, this move to interim/through-year testing is a national trend, in part because, after two decades of use, the federally-required end-of-year assessments aren’t popular with anyone. New York City is adding interim assessments this year, and Florida’s governor announced a switch to through-year/interim testing.

IL-FPS is part of a coalition with teachers, assessment experts and community orgs working to push back against this plan. The interim/through-year test would mean three high-stakes test administrations throughout the year, leading to more test prep time and the use of a manufactured, composite score at the end of the year for rating schools—and possibly teachers and administrators.

We’ve created a 1-pager explainer on this plan. Please share it with your contacts who care about this issue!

Download: 2021 State Testing Update for Parents

ISBE says they’ll be holding stakeholder input meetings later this fall to get feedback on their plan. We’ll share dates and times when we have them!


Sun-Times covers new recess law and says: this IL school mandate isn’t controversial!

The Sun-Times reported on the new Right to Play recess law last week and highlighted a Chicago elementary school where parents and kids are thrilled about having 30 minutes of recess each day!

Unfortunately, not all Illinois schools are in compliance with the new law, and CPS has told principals there is no need to comply before next fall.

See our recess toolkit here for advocacy tips if your school isn’t providing 30 minutes for K-5 yet!

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