About State Assessments 

The State of Illinois is required to administer several assessments during the time that a child is in school.  Specifically, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that states administer a universal assessment to all students in grades 3-8 in the areas of mathematics and English/Language Arts.  Additionally, the law requires the administration of an assessment in the area of science - once while a child is in fifth grade and another time while a child is in eighth grade.

For several school years, the State of Illinois utilized an assessment known as the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers) for use in all schools.  Beginning in 2018 - 2019, the PARCC will be replaced by the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) - a brand new assessment developed by educators in Illinois fo use in the coming years to measure student achievement and growth.  Additionally, Illinois utilizes the Illinois Science Assessment to satisfy the requirements in the area of science.

Another assessment, the ACCESS for ELL test, is given to students who are identified as English Language Learners (EL).

About the IAR

Our students take federally required assessments every spring. These assessments help us understand how our students are growing academically, compared to their peers across the state. The state uses this information to provide more support and resources to the schools in the greatest need. This year, the English language arts and math assessment for grades 3-8 is called the Illinois Assessment of Readiness

Students, families, and schools will experience essentially no difference in the assessment this year. The Illinois Assessment of Readiness measures the same standards and includes the same high-quality test questions used the last four years. Using the same content and measuring the same standards ensures comparability from year to year – an essential commitment to including growth in our support and accountability system. The assessment will be slightly shorter this year to field test new questions needed for the transition to a computer adaptive test.

The improvements to come to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness administration in the next few years reflect active partnership with educators and practitioners to make the assessment even more useful for improving student outcomes. It will provide the option of bringing all accountability assessments onto a single administration and management platform, and will maintain comparability throughout all changes.

About the Illinois Science Assessment

All fifth and eighth-graders take the Illinois Science Assessment (ISA) in the Spring. The ISA aligns with the new Illinois Learning Standards (link opens in a new window) in science. This assessment helps families understand how well students are performing academically and see whether they are on track to succeed in college. The ISA represents Illinois’ commitment to preparing all students for college and careers, including in the high-demand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The assessment also satisfies federal accountability requirements.  The ISA is designed to reflect classroom experiences.

The ISA is an hour-long summative assessment. The results provide administrators with important data to help them make broad curriculum decisions at the school and district levels.

About the DLM (Dynamic Learning Map)

A small number of students, those with the most significant cognitive challenges, are not able to take the typical state assessments even with the universal design features, accommodations, and supports.  For these students, usually less than 1% of our population, the Dynamic Learning Map may be appropriate.

Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 has worked with members of its special education team to help identify students who may need this assessment based on the following guidelines set by the State of Illinois:

These students have intellectual functioning well below average (typically associated with an IQ below 55) that exists concurrently with impairments or deficits in adaptive functioning (i.e. communications, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-directions, functional academic skills, work leisure, health and safety).

The reference to "typically associated with an IQ of below 55" is to help distinguish between students with cognitive disabilities and significant cognitive disabilities from students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. This means that many students with cognitive disabilities will not qualify for the DLM Alternate Assessment. By default, they must take our regular state assessment with or without accommodations.

With that said, the inclusion of the words "typically associated with" allows for some flexibility amongst IEP teams.

About the ACCESS for ELL Assessment

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is an English language proficiency assessment for Grades K–12. The test is administered every year to help school districts monitor the English language development of students identified as English language learners.  It measures students’ abilities to understand and produce English used within school settings. The four sections of the test are Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing.

Children identified as English language learners take the test every year until his/her scores meet the criteria to exit the language support program.  In Illinois, students take the assessments in January and February.

Scores from ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 can be used in many ways. Parents can use the scores to advocate for their child. Teachers use the scores to plan instruction and assessments. Districts use the scores to evaluate their language support programs, to monitor student progress in acquiring English, and to determine if a student is eligible to exit an English language support program. Scores are also used to meet federal and state accountability requirements.

ACCESS 2.0 is aligned with college-and-career readiness standards and the scores more accurately show a child’s level of English proficiency.  After reviewing extensive information on achievement performance and in consultation with education experts including teachers, principals and superintendents, it was determined that a composite score of 4.8 on the ACCESS 2.0 is needed to exit EL classification.

Additional Information

(Links below open in a new window)

About the PARCC

The PARCC assessments serve as an “educational GPS system,” assessing students’ current performance, and pointing the way to what students need to learn to be ready for the next grade level and, by high school graduation, for college and/or a career.

The PARCC assessments are designed to give schools and teachers more information to improve instruction. Moreover, PARCC is designed to let parents know how their child is progressing academically. This more detailed information can lead to strong engagement between parents and teachers.

Q:  What is a good score?  
Score reports show how students performed on each portion of the PARCC assessment as well as their overall score. The student test results mark a new baseline that enables all of us to know where students currently stand on their path to success in college and career. 
-- Students scoring a 4 or 5 have demonstrated that they have a thorough understanding of grade-level content and are on the right track to being ready for college-level coursework. 
-- Students receiving a 3 are approaching expectations, but may need additional assistance mastering content. 
-- Students receiving a 1 or 2 need more assistance in mastering the content and are in need of greater supports.

Q:  How will student scores be used?
A:   Scores are used in conjunction with our local assessments (MAP, STAR, Writing Benchmarks) to identify subjects a child is doing well and how they can be challenged to go deeper into other areas or where he or she needs extra support or practice.  Having accurate data is an important part of ensuring that our schools are providing the right supports for students to be successful.

Resources for Parents and Students