Assessments / Standardized Testing

  • Standardized Tests

    Standardized testing serves several purposes. Some of these tests help teachers determine how much academic growth or progress students are making in a given subject area. Other tests help teachers determine the most important areas that require an additional or heightened teaching focus. Different types of testing take place throughout the school year. 

    State-Mandated Tests

    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) mandates four assessments each year:

    • Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR)—Every Illinois school district is required to administer an annual state-mandated academic achievement test. The IAR assessment includes a rich set of performance-based tasks that reflect some of the most important academic skills that we strive to develop in students. IAR tests are designed to assist teachers, schools, students, and parents to understand how the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities that help prepare young people to thrive in college and careers are being developed. The IAR assessment is given to students in Grades 3 to 8.

    • Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State to State (ACCESS)—ISBE requires that school districts administer ACCESS annually to all students in a second language program. ACCESS measures an English Language Learners’ development and proficiency in English. The ACCESS test is also designed to demonstrate student’s growth toward English proficiency over time.

    • Illinois Science Assessment—Starting in 2016, Illinois school districts were required to assess student knowledge and skill in Science. The Illinois Science Assessment is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and is used to measure student mastery of the Illinois science standards. This test is administered online and is taken by students in Grades 5 and 8.

    • The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) is an observational tool, not a test. This tool is designed to help teachers understand the developmental readiness of children entering kindergarten. KIDS focuses on four key domains domains that most impact long-term student success. The domains are: Approaches to Learning and Self-Regulation; Social and Emotional Development; Language and Literacy Development; and Cognition: Math.

    State-mandated tests are required, so parents/guardians do not have an “opt out” from taking these tests. Parents/guardians that would like more information about state-mandated tests can contact their school principal or the Educational Services Department. 

    Non State-Mandated Tests

    Parents/guardians may, however, choose for their children to opt out of District testing that is not state-mandated. These tests are listed below. Parents/guardians can communicate an opt out decision to their school principal.

    Although valuable, state tests may not provide the required information to make timely decisions about student needs. As such, the District has adopted several additional tests so that our information about student performance is timely during the school year:

    • District 15 uses the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing system. Students in Grades 2-8 are tested at least twice a year (fall and spring). Some schools may also choose to administer MAP tests during the winter. The computer-based MAP tests measure individual student achievement in three academic areas: reading, language arts, and math. They accurately reflect each student's knowledge and understanding and they measure growth over time. Tests dynamically adjust to a student's performance level, making test scores more accurate. MAP test results are shared with parents at the close of each testing window. The information provided through MAP testing better enables the district to make appropriate, data-driven decisions at the classroom, school, and district levels. It also allows teachers to make rapid adjustments in instruction to respond to identified student needs.

    • FastBridge: is an assessment tool we use to screen and progress monitoring our students in reading, math, and social-emotional behavior. This test is administered online and the data combined with information from other assessments is used to guide instruction and assess growth. 
    • For students in Grades K-2, the District uses Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM), a short screening measure of students’ reading proficiency to record a student’s early reading skills including alphabet recognition and sounds, phonemic awareness, and oral reading fluency.

    • Other individually administered tests may be required if additional information is needed to provide more targeted educational programming for a child. For example, a variety of processed-based assessments are used, including the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, Oral Language Assessment, Words Their Way Inventory, and additional classroom-based assessments. Other tests, like the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), a standardized test that measures a student’s verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative abilities is used together with MAP reading and math scores to determine whether or not a student would benefit from academically talented and gifted programming in Grades 3-6. When needed, individual evaluations may also include psychological or educational assessment as part of a case study evaluation for specialized educational services. Parent permission is required for this type of evaluation.

    Please be certain your child has adequate sleep prior to testing and encourage your child to do their best when taking the tests. The opportunity for making up tests is limited, so it is important that you schedule doctor appointments or important family commitments when students are not involved in standardized testing.

    No single test can provide a complete picture of a child's achievement. Classroom performance, teacher observation, and other tests help provide additional information about your child. Questions about your child's test results should be directed to their teacher or the school principal.

    See the District 15 Standardized Testing Schedule for the full list of scheduled tests.