With state officials raising the bar on what it takes to pass, the number of Chicago Public Schools students who met state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test plummeted this year.
Only 52.5 percent of CPS third- through eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards — a drop of nearly 22 percentage points from last year.
Education advocates say the preliminary test scores provide a more accurate picture of how elementary school students in the city are performing.
CPS officials applied the new cutoff scores to ISAT data over the last 12 years, and said student performance has grown steadily. This year, using the updated benchmark, 65 percent of elementary schools showed improvement in the number of students who met state standards, the district said.
CPS will likely not be the only district that sees the percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards drop this year.
A new and stricter scoring of state standardized tests shows that only about half of Chicago Public Schools children can do math at grade level and just under half can read at grade level, though CPS students continued to make some steady progress across all grades and subjects in a year bookended by disruption.
CPS officials released preliminary results from 2013 Illinois State Achievement Tests for grades 3 to 8 on Tuesday, showing that 52.5 percent of all 3rd to 8th graders met or exceeded state standards for math, reading and science, down from 74.2 percent last year.
The giant drop is attributed to a state decision earlier this year to raise the scores required to meet or exceed state standards to better align grade school progress with high school and more accurately reflect how well kids are doing; scoring last year’s results according to this year’s levels show that 50.7 percent of CPS students made the standards in 2012, according to CPS.
The latest results show 48 percent of third to eighth graders meeting the new state standard for reading, and 50.1 percent for math.
“I actually believe this is much better for our children, in the long run it’s going to help our children to be far more successful in getting ready for college,” schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said of the apparent decrease on a conference call Tuesday.
Robin Steans, who heads the state education policy group Advance Illinois, was “pleasantly surprised” to see CPS, the first district to release scores using the new threshhold, improve despite the year’s many distractions. And she approved of what she called a more honest assessment of children’s progress.