More About "Equated" ISAT Scores

Curious about how the state had dealt with the score changes that had resulted from a change in SAT10 forms from 2007 to 2008, I did some calling and emailing and found out a little about what went on behind yesterday's ISAT announcement:

You already know: Faced last spring with big fluctuations in its 2008 state test

scores that were not smoothed out by standard equating procedures,

Illinois officials rescored all the SAT10 tests and brought in a second

equating process that apparently did the job. Scores are up again in

elementary and middle school. The culprit apparently was a new test

form that was being used for the first time after two years of using

the previous form.

Perhaps new: I'm told by ISBE that test scores are always equated (converted?) from year to year, to address differences in test items from year to year. Not sure why equating would be necessary in years where the same test forms were being used as the previous years. Maybe someone can fill me in on that. Nor am I entirely clear on just how widely acceptable the second equating procedure was. What were the old scores, and what were the new ones? I'm assuming that the new ones are generally higher than the old ones.

Below you can read a letter from ISBE from August, as well as the official CPS press release from yesterday.

August 7, 2008

Message from State Superintendent

Christopher A. Koch

As was explained in

prior messages, we noticed unexpected results, both increases and decreases, in

the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) scores during the data review

period this year. These findings were confirmed by several district administrators

analyzing their own results. After a thorough review by my staff, Pearson

Education and third party reviewers with substantial experience in testing, we

have determined that we could obtain more accurate results. As a result, I have

asked Pearson to move forward with re-equating and rescoring using a more

appropriate process.

This process will delay

the release of scores for several weeks. While I am not happy with any delay,

as an agency we have an obligation to ensure that the assessment results you receive

are an accurate representation of student performance.

I know many of you are

concerned about having Adequate Yearly Progess status information for planning

purposes prior to the start of school. We are working to get these scores to

you as soon as possible. In the past when these determinations have been late,

the advice given to districts was to err on the side of caution and begin

making plans to provide school choice and/or supplemental education services in

situations where there was a chance that the test scores would trigger these


Thank you for your

patience and understanding regarding ISAT scoring. I will keep you informed as

we move forward in the process.

The Prairie State

Achievement Examination scores have been posted in the “Assessment

Correction” files on the Student Information System for your review.

Districts have until Monday, August 18, to make additional corrections or to

request a rescore.

I would also like to

commend those districts working to reestablish facilities and services damaged

or disrupted by this spring’s extensive flooding.

One question that has

surfaced relates to the transportation of students who may currently be living

outside of your district due to the flooding and whose parents or guardians

wish to have them continue attending school in your district. This may include

students living across state borders.

Consistent with federal

guidance relative to the McKinney-Vento

Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act, whether or not to

enroll students displaced by a natural disaster and transporting such students

to their school of origin (i.e., the school where the student had been

attending prior to the natural disaster) must be determined on a case-by-case

basis and that determination must be consistent with the requirements of the

Act. A link to federal non-regulatory guidance on McKinney-Vento, which addresses the question on responding

to natural disasters and transportation of eligible students, follows: Question G-11).

In those instances where displaced students are found to lack a fixed,

regular, and adequate nighttime abode, as defined by McKinney-Vento, transportation to the school of origin is

appropriate, even where that requires inter-district travel. If inter-district

travel is required, then the resident school district should contact the

district in which the student is temporarily located in order to coordinate

transportation services and apportion costs incurred.

In the event

your district is in the position where inter-district transportation is

necessary in order to serve your displaced students who are currently homeless,

appropriate transportation costs incurred in meeting that need will be eligible

for reimbursement under Section 29-5 of the School Code.

Please feel

free to continue to reach out to our School Business Services Division at 217-785-8779

with your questions and concerns arising from these natural disasters.



September 15, 2008

Mayor’s Press Office


CPS Office of Communications

Jeanie Chung




Seven consecutive years

of improvement

A record number of Chicago public elementary

school students are meeting or exceeding Illinois reading and math standards,

setting a new all-time district high—all despite a late state mandate

requiring English Language Learners to take the test for the first time,

Mayor Richard M. Daley and school officials announced Monday.

According to preliminary data from the

Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), the district’s composite

score—which captures reading, math, and science --increased 1.3 percentage

points this year, marking the seventh year that CPS test scores have

increased. That means 65.4 percent of all students met or exceeded state

standards across all subjects in the 2007-2008 school year, up from

64.1 percent the previous year.

A “true apples-to-apples comparison”—without

English Language Learners included---would show a 3.7 percent increase

to 67.8 percent meeting or exceeding state standards, district officials


“More important, we are making steady

gains over time, with hundreds of schools making progress on ISAT over

the last seven years, including this one,” Mayor Daley said at E.F.

Young elementary, 1434 N. Parkside Ave., where composite scores rose

36.3 percentage points, from 18.7 percent of students meeting or exceeding

standards in 2001 to almost 55 percent in 2008. “We’re making great

strides in the right direction, thanks to the dedication of our principals,

the hard work of our teachers, the guidance of many of our parents,

and the growing number of community partners that have teamed up with

us to help this district improve.”

Fifth-graders, in particular, stood out

in reading and math on this year’s ISAT exam, given to third- through

eighth-graders every spring.

“While this means that an increasing

number of students have improved their performance in the classroom,

let’s remember that we still have a lot of work to do to help students

who are still struggling in a handful of schools,’’ the mayor said.

“We all need to continue to raise the bar on students and their teachers,

to close failing schools, and create new schools that give families

quality choices.”

Without the inclusion of ELL students,

scores for all racial and ethnic groups increased. African-American

students went from 54.2 percent meeting or exceeding standards on the

composite to 58.3 percent, and Hispanic students went from 72.0 percent

to 74.4 percent. Since 2001, when the percentage of African-American

students meeting or exceeding standards was 30.5 percent, the percentage

has nearly doubled. Hispanic students have increased nearly 34 percentage

points, from 2001’s 40.8 percent.

“A true apples-to-apples comparison,

this year to last year, shows larger gains, but it all points to the

fact that our core strategies are working,’’ said CPS CEO Arne Duncan.

“And we’re proud that district-wide, more of our students are finding

themselves in the exceeding-state-standards category, across subjects.”

The preliminary data shows that the percentage

of students exceeding state standards, or performing above their grade

in various subjects, also rose. Last year, the ISAT composite score

was 11.4 percent of students exceeding state standards, which jumped

up to 13.1 percent this year. In reading, 12.8 percent of students exceeded

standards, up from 10.3 percent last year. In math, 14.9 percent of

students exceeded standards, up from 14 percent last year, and in science

8.3 percent exceeded standards, up from 7.1 percent last year.

“These steady gains over multiple schools

are moving us in the right direction to close the achievement gap,”

said Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams said. “It’s

the kind of progress you want to see. It is real improvement, year after


Not including ELL students, 66.7 percent

of students met or exceeded state standards in reading this year, up

from 60.9 in the previous year, an increase of 5.8 percentage points.

Fifth-graders made a particularly significant improvement, going from

52.5 percent of students meeting or exceeding last year to 60.1 percent

this year. In 2001 only 34.5 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded

standards in reading.

In math, 70.6 percent of students met

or exceeded state standards, an increase of two points over last year,

when 68.6 percent of students met or exceeded standards. Again, fifth-graders

showed improvement, going from 65.5 percent meeting or exceeding last

year to 68.9 percent this year, and up from 32.3 percent in 2001.

Both fourth- and seventh-graders, the

only grades to have consistently taken the science test since 2001,

have shown consistent improvement. In 2001, 36.4 percent of fourth graders

met or exceeded standards. That number rose to 57.4 percent by 2007

and again to 60.2 percent this year. In 2001, 51.6 percent of seventh-graders

met or exceeded standards, compared to 62.8 last year and 64.7 this


During the past spring’s testing period,

the district learned that English Language Learners (ELLs) would have

to take the ISAT for the first time. In the past, those students were

allowed to take the IMAGE, a test specifically designed for students

who are learning English. ELL students range from those who do not speak

or understand any English to those with limited English abilities.

The composite score for this year with

ELL students included is 65.4 per cent, reading is 63.5 and math is


CPS, other districts, and parents of

ELL students argued that ELL students would not have had enough time

to prepare for or enough test-taking accommodations to take an exam

that would yield results that truly measured their knowledge of a particular

subject. But the state still required ELL students to take the ISAT.

“Providing a world class education

to every child is not just my mission – it’s our city’s mission

and I want to thank every parent, teacher and community and business

leader for their ongoing support,” Daley said.

“Over the last thirteen years there

have always been those who said our children weren’t up to the challenge

and that we’d never turn around our schools and graduate students

prepared to compete in the global economy.

“Of course, there’s more to be done

-- especially to turn around our underperforming schools. But,

we should never underestimate the commitment of every student in every

school in Chicago to do their best.

“They’ve shown they’re up to the

challenge,” he said.

Currently, more than 65,000 students

are considered English Language Learners within CPS, which has the highest

number of ELL students in the state. The Chicago Public Schools is the

nation’s third largest school system. It includes more than 650 schools

and serves about 405,000 students.

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Filed under: ISBE / Springfield

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