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District 209, Feeder Schools Set Momentum for State Education Changes

January 25, 2013 08:55 AM
Forest Park, IL...Proviso Township High Schools District 209 joined with its feeder school districts on Thursday, January 17, to inform the public about the coming changes in how students and schools will be evaluated.

The community forum took place at Proviso Math and Science Academy. It was designed to explain the transition for elementary and middle school students from the Illinois Standard Achievement Test, or ISAT, which measures the achievement of third- through eighth-graders in reading and math and fourth- through seventh-graders in science, to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, assessments. Illinois is scheduled to adopt in spring 2015 the new statewide testing that will assess the new, more rigorous national Common Core Standards, to which testing for high school juniors, the Prairie State Achievement Examination, or PSAE, is already well-matched. The forum featured area administrators explaining the changes as well as an opportunity for the nearly 100 community members who attended to ask questions about the tests.

Mr. Ed Moyer, Executive Director for Assessment and Planning for District 209, stated that the PSAE is based on how you did compared to others who took the test, as opposed to the ISAT, which is based on mastering knowledge and skills. The revised testing will better match the state tests that high school juniors take so that there is clarity and consistency between the two. Ms. Eva Smith, superintendent of Berkeley School District 87, said that the PARCC will test more than students’ knowledge of subject areas such as reading, language, and math, looking more at their ability to carry out certain tasks.

To get to that point, however, will mean an adjustment of the standard scores that each school must meet, which will likely result in a lower percentage of its students being considered proficient in the subjects.

"Those are significant changes in what students will have to meet," Ms. Smith said. "We’ll have to work a lot harder and impress on the children the importance of paying attention [in class]."

Mr. Moyer stated that high school juniors will begin taking the PSAE online starting during the 2014-15 school year. In addition, the WorkKeys test will be expanded, with the students’ results potentially leading to a National College and Career Readiness Certificate. With a platinum level for high scores, the students will be able to use the certificate not only for when they apply for colleges, but also for when they apply for a job after high school.

"[The certificate] means you can have a lot of confidence in this person," Mr. Moyer said. "Businesses want to have people credentialed, and this is a step in that direction."

The event also addressed upcoming changes to the state report cards, the Five Essentials Survey, and other academic measuring tools that are being brought more in line with the new standards and the high school testing. This is in order to provide a more accurate picture of how a student is performing academically.

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the community forum was a first for District 209 in meeting with its feeder school districts. They include Berkeley School District 87, Bellwood School District 88, Maywood School District 89, Forest Park School District 91, Lindop School District 92, Westchester School District 92.5, and Hillside District 93. She said that the entire community is needed to improve the education of its children.

"It’s going to take all of Proviso Township to get our children where we need to be," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "We’ve got to get those test scores up. We can do better and we will do better. We need our students to take this seriously."


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