In April, the IL State Board of Education had on its agenda an approval of a Request for Proposals for a $227M contract to start on July 1, 2021 to develop and administer a new state test for Illinois. The test would be administered three times a year, not just once, and would cover K-2, not just 3-8th, which is what the federal government requires. The approval vote was delayed until May, and then delayed again.
This RFP looks like a proposal to make NWEA MAP the state test. (Compare the language on the NWEA website with the RFP.) NWEA was orginally marketed as a formative test, i.e. it was designed to show what students are learning at a given time.
ISBE wants to use scores from three different formative tests to create one final, summative score that they would use for high-stakes purposes of rating schools, even though NWEA was not designed to be used in this way.
For the first two years of the contract, 20% of students will be guinea pigs for the new test and continue taking IAR.
How much extra test prep will students be subjected to moving from having a state test once per year in the spring to three times? This will result in a watering-down of the curriculum as basic skills are emphasized on these tests rather than complex critical-thinking skills and creativity.
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We need less testing and lower stakes, not more. The pandemic has made it clear how important engaging learning experiences, physical activity, social interaction and mental/emotional health are to our children's educational environment. It's also highlighted problems with our assessment and accountability system in Illinois and how those assessments are used.
We need to advocate with our state legislators, the State Board and, ultimately, our US Senators and Congressional Reps, who are responsible for the federal law that drives so much of this overuse and misuse of standardized testing and test scores.