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IL Standardized Tests Getting Tougher

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The Illinois State Board of Education is making it tougher for students to be considered proficient on state tests. The board voted to raise the cut-off score for the Illinois Standard Achievement Tests in English, language arts, and math. These changes affect elementary and middle school students. The State Superintendent of Education says this will provide more accurate information on how students are doing.

The cut off scores are not only the only thing changing. The test itself is also under going a make over. The state is switching to the "common core standards." This year 20 percent of the test will have common core questions, and next year 40 percent of the questions will be in that format. The common core standards narrow the focus of what students need to learn, but ask more out of them at a younger age.

"One of the concepts of the new standards is an increase in rigor," said Dr. Dave Moyer, Superintendent of Moline Schools.

Moyer says in the past the ISAT questions covered a very broad range and were mostly multiple choice. However, with the new common core standards the questions will be a little bit more comprehensive.

"They are designed to be computer based and they are designed to involve writing, designed to involve high level thinking skills, application collaboration and other things like that."

Moyer says the hope is the new standards will better prep students for college and careers. However, he and other educators say it will be an adjustment.

"I think what you are going to see in the coming years or at least the next couple of years, scores that are not as high as they would traditionally be," said Andy Richmond, Superintendent for Eagle Ridge School in Silvis.

Richmond says because the tests and cut off scores will be more difficult, many students who used to do well, may see their scores drop. However, he says parents should not be alarmed.

"Its going to take time for the teachers to adjust to the new standards, but I know we have a strong enough staff to get that done."

Teachers at Eagle Ridge have already started their training Moyer says he will be meeting with Moline staff within the next few weeks to formulate a plan.

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