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Math Scores Are Up in Illinois

by Early Math Counts

This morning’s Chicago Tribune reported the results of last spring’s ISAT tests (for those of you outside of Illinois these are the dreaded Illinois Standards Achievement Tests). Passing scores were increased recently supposedly to better prepare students for more difficult exams in the future.  Just as expected, the passing rates fell just as the the Common Core became the law of the land (at least this part of the land).

The good news is that 2014 math scores are up slightly from 2013.  The bad news is that reading scores are down slightly from the same time period.  Although the Tribune received these scores from sources other than the Illinois State Board of Education, they are confident that they are accurate and ISBE will release the statewide scores after they meet to discuss them.

Hmmmm- so what does this mean? For this blogger, it probably doesn’t add up to a whole lot of anything.  For one, it is impossible to tease out any useful information from one year’s data set, especially one that is trying to compare apples with oranges. In 2013, only a percentage of the test questions came from the Common Core whereas all were changed in 2014.  This is not to mention that last spring was the LAST year students in the state will take the ISATs.  They are done.  The state has removed them in order to make room for another set of standardized tests.

I have a colleague who always says, “If you focus on something, it will change.”  Is our focus on math in the state of Illinois responsible for this upturn?  Does the focus on math shift learning away from reading?  What does this mean for children who are in the middle of their school years?  Are they at a disadvantage when all of these changes are taking place all around them?  Are parents able to navigate understanding all of these requirements and new tests?

The more important question that we should all be asking is, “What does this say about learning and (if we have to have them) how can all of these tests create a framework to better understand the learning process in order to better serve ALL children?”

6 Replies to “Math Scores Are Up in Illinois”

  1. Hi Jen!

    Although I read this last week , I am just sitting down to respond! I too do not agree with standard testing, especially in light of findings by Howard Gardner and others regarding intelligence and ability .

    The findings are equally puzzling as WE know that math is language whose skills are evident throughout reading, writing, social studies etc.. These skills help children think logically , critically and creatively – I have lots of questions for the people who conducted this study! –

    We are not only blogging about this topic this week but reflecting upon one of the math blog topics here for our Week Nine Reflections to continue these important conversations as we study this semester.

  2. Hello. I believe that rules have changed tremendously with testing in illinois school systems. i think that the focus have become more on testing than the overall achievement of the students. test taking is necessary along with homework to determine a students overall understanding of the subjects that are being taught, however, i don\’t think a test should interfer with moving forward to the next grade. i think more emphasis should be put on how to help children excel in all areas and not just math.

  3. Hi, First I think that testing is not completely important if the child is learning. At times we are focused on preparing for a test than preparing for what life is really about. In my opinion I feel that all subjects at school should be dealt with a lot of support and creative activities rather than tests. I remember when I was preparing for all these test back in the day and to say the truth I don\’t remember anything that was dramatically enforced. Taking that into consideration I feel that school is not so engaging when you are forced to prepare for so many test.

  4. I think that there is a focus to the ISAT scores, as well as other test scores. As a result we forget or don’t take into consideration that those scores do not represent the child. Many children test wonderfully but they don’t do so well in class and sometimes is the other way around. I think that there should be a balance focus on reading and math in the classroom.

  5. I do not think that the ISAT testing is all that important. Children all learn differently if they are learning the way they should they shouldn\’t have to sit for hours and hours every day for a week taking tests. Some children are not good at taking tests. I have bad test anxiety, if you give a child a time limit on tests and they have test anxiety they will not perform well. I think that scores should be gathered by the children\’s grades and not such an intense test for them.

  6. After reading this article, I think that every subject should count. However, test a child\’s math knowledge other than let him have fun with math concept does not make any sense for me because we all learn from our host speaker Janvier, and our textbook in CD 143 that children learn through play. So, making a child takes a test is totally mistaking. I knew from my previous experience that we can find math anywhere, meaningfully, it\’s important to focus on each subject as important as math.

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