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Superintendent's Message

PARCC Assessment Results

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As many of you are aware, Illinois students this past spring participated in a new state assessment, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, in English Language Arts and Math. The PARCC assessment replaces the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) and marks a significant change from these previous assessments. The PARCC results were released last week and our District is in the process of disaggregating the data to share with parents, guardians and all stakeholders.

The PARCC exam asks students to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills, rather than reciting facts and completing multiple choice questions. The PARCC exam aligns with the updated Illinois Learning Standards and measures students’ problem solving abilities, critical thinking, and writing skills, all of which represent abilities students need to stay on track for college and career readiness after high school.

The new test also signals a change in how student performance will be reported. The PARCC exam score reports will show how each child performed on each portion of the test. It will also reveal their overall score, which will fall within one of five performance levels. Students whose scores fall within levels 1 or 2 require greater supports to understand content. Students receiving a 3 are approaching expectations, but may need additional assistance mastering content. Those who receive a 4 or 5 have shown a thorough understanding of grade-level content and are on track to be ready for college-level coursework. The reports will also allow you to compare how your student is doing compared to others in his/her school, district, or state.

As you review these reports, your child’s scores, as well as the school and district averages, will look much different and may appear lower than what you typically expected on previous state assessments. It is important to remember that these score reports are not comparable to your child’s previous scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). The PARCC exam uses higher expectations for what it means for students to truly master content and grade-level standards.

The 2015 PARCC test scores provide a new baseline to measure student progress going forward. These results do not mean our students know less or are less capable or that our schools are failing. The schools in Dolton School District 149 are continuing to do great work to teach the updated learning standards and prepare our students for the demands of college and careers. The state of Illinois has just raised the bar for the type of skills and knowledge students must possess before moving onto the next grade level.

As with any change, we must always anticipate some challenges as students and teachers adjust to the new format of the PARCC exam and the higher expectations of the Illinois Learning Standards. Our District administers another nationally norm test to track student, school and district performance.  This test called the Terra Nova is nationally recognized as one of the better indicators for student performance. The results of the Terra Nova exam shows significantly higher scores than the new PARCC exam.  In analyzing the results we must consider both instruments to measure growth. It is predicated on the Terra Nova results that our district is confident the results will improve as our students become more familiar with the test. Our staff will continue to work hard to keep you informed about our progress as a District and will provide opportunities for discussion and feedback. Our teachers are the experts about what is happening in their classrooms and are an invaluable resource for our parents. As such, I encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) with any questions you may have about your child’s academic progress.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that all of our students are prepared for success in college and beyond. The PARCC exam is positioned to be a valuable tool to make that goal a reality. No test provides a complete picture of student performance, and the PARCC exam results are simply one of many factors that we use to measure progress. Our Terra Nova data is another factor that we utilize as well.

As a District, we will continue to recognize and value the great teaching, innovation, leadership, commitment, and achievements that make our schools unique. For additional information about the PARCC exam and the latest updates on statewide assessments, please visit www.isbe.net/parcc-place/default.htm or www.isbe.net/hot-topics.htm.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to your child’s academic growth and success. As always, I am available should you have questions, comments or concerns (708) 868-7861 daviss@sd149.org.

We Believe. . . Excellence, Humanization and Pride!

Educationally yours,

Dr. Shelly Davis-Jones


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