10/24 & 10/25: Ask ISBE about new school ratings, punitive opt out policy

Important news for people concerned about the impact of high-stakes standardized testing on Illinois schools. There's not only a new state test this coming spring to replace PARCC, the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), but there's also a new state rating system for IL being rolled out later this month, and opt out rate may play a big role in your school’s rating.

The IL State Board of Education is doing a “roadshow” of question and answer sessions about the rating system, and there are two sessions in the Chicago area this week:

Wed. Oct 24th, 42 W Madison, Chicago, 5-7pm

Thurs Oct 25th, 906 Walton St, Melrose Park, 5-7pm

Even though the changes in federal law don’t require states to do more than identify the very lowest performing schools in order to provide them with additional support, Illinois has chosen to create a leveled rating system and base it primarily on test scores and other factors that are heavily dependent on school demographics and resources.

Illinois also chose to design the rating system in a way that doubly penalizes schools with high percentages of opt out/refusal. First, opt out students will be counted as students who did not meet/exceed proficiency on the state test, not just counted as having refused to participate. Second, schools that don’t meet the 95% participation requirement can’t receive the highest rating (“Exemplary”). And after three years of low participation, schools may be designated as “underperforming”.

Please consider attending one of these ISBE Q&A sessions this week to ask ISBE officials why they haven’t taken full advantage of the opportunity presented by the changes in federal law to create a system that de-emphasizes standardized testing and highlights funding and resource needs.

If you’d like more info on how else IL could design their system, FairTest has a good explanation here of the different options under federal law that states have in responding to opt out and a comprehensive report on different state systems here.

If you’d like to attend, but have questions or want more info, contact us at info@ilraiseyourhand.org.