During the middle of the 2007-2008 school year, the statewide assessment system was drastically and inappropriately altered when the Illinois State Board of Education failed to negotiate an acceptable solution for testing English Language Learners (ELL) with the U.S. Department of Education. The end result was that all English Language Learners were administered the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT) in March. ISAT is the general statewide assessment designed for students who are proficient in English and is not a valid testing instrument for ELL students. ELL student performance on this measure does not fairly represent their achievement in reading, mathematics, or science.
The last minute decision at the federal and state level to have all students take ISAT was anticipated to have an impact on the performance of English Language Learners, especially in reading. Now that the test results are available, the decision's impact can be seen at the District and at the State level. Even State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch supports District 21's holding that AYP determinations for 2008 are not reflective of our students, teachers, or schools. As a school district, we will rely on local assessments such as DIBELS/IDEL and NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to monitor our performance in the content areas. Furthermore, the English language proficiency of ELLs is measured annually with another statewide assessment, ACCESS, which focuses on English listening, speaking, reading and writing. District 21's ELL students have met the State's criteria for progress in acquiring English and in meeting English language proficiency targets for all of the years that this has been measured.
It is not only local school districts that acknowledge the difficulty of the 2007-2008 assessment scenario for English Language Learners and for the schools that serve them. The Illinois State Board of Education has also provided communication to parents. That follows below in multiple languages.
Letter from State Board of Education Superintendent Koch
School and Student Performance
Despite this change in the structure and nature of the assessments, District 21 schools showed strong performance on state tests in 2008. Math performance was consistently outstanding for all students. Reading performance was better than experts would have predicted prior to testing based on the invalid practices used to assess the reading skills of our English language learners. This pattern mirrors statewide results.
Overall, 72.9% of students met or exceeded standards on Reading, and 84% of students met or exceeded standards on Mathematics.
Official State Report Cards for School District 21 and each school from the Illinois State Board of Education
Learn more about Adequate Yearly Progress