Assessment of Student Learning


Throughout the school year, District 401 uses a suite of rigorous methods and tools to evaluate, measure and document the academic needs and educational growth of our students.

These assessments provide the District with reliable data so that our teachers and administrators may do the following:

► Identify student strengths and diagnose weaknesses.
► Evaluate the effectiveness of curricular offerings and instructional practices.
► Establish goals for individual student and school improvement.
► Communicate student achievement to District 401 stakeholders.

Some of these assessment tools are standardized exams required by the state, such as the PARCC (grades 3-8) and SAT (grade 11) exams. Others are more localized, such as student growth assessments given by District teachers at various times during the school year.

Regardless of their differences, the fundamental purpose is the same: to generate data that District 401 can use for the benefit of all students.


District 401 Assessments Listed by School


To find out which assessments are given at a specific D401 school, click the appropriate row below. Please note that most of the dates listed are assessment windows — that is, general timeframes for assessment rather than specific testing dates.
 

2018-19 EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER ASSESSMENTS
*Asterisk indicates state-mandated assessment

WHAT

WHO

WHEN

ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs)*

Kindergarten
(English learners)

Jan 16 to Feb 19

AimswebPlus

Kindergarten

Oct 22 to Nov 02
Apr 15 to Apr 25

English Language Arts (ELA) Assessment

Kindergarten

Aug 15 to Sep 3
May 6 to May 17

Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment
System (BAS)

Kindergarten

Oct 22 to Nov 2
Apr 29 to May 3

Kindergarten Individual Development Survey
(KIDS)*

Kindergarten

Aug 15 to Oct 24

Gold Assessment

Pre-Kindergarten

November
January
May

Guided Assessment

Kindergarten

November
January
May

Math Assessment

Kindergarten

Aug 15 to Sep 3
May 6 to May 17

Student Growth Assessment (SGA)*

Pre-K & Kindergarten

Aug 15 to Sep 3 (pre)
Nov 1 to Jan 25 (post)

WIDA Measure of Developing English
Language (MODEL)

Kindergarten
(English learners or
potential English learners
as identified on the D401
Home Language Survey)

Aug 15 to Sep 16

2018-19 ELMWOOD & JOHN MILLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ASSESSMENTS
*Asterisk indicates state-mandated assessment

WHAT

WHO

WHEN

ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs)*

Grades 1-6
(English learners)

Jan 16 to Feb 19

AimswebPlus

Grades 1-6

Aug 15 to Sep 12
Nov 26 to Dec 7
Apr 15 to Apr 25

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

Grade 2

Apr 29 to May 3

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)*

Grades 3-6
(Special education
alternate state assessment)

Mar 13 to May 8

English Language Arts (ELA) Assessment

Grades 1-6

Aug 15 to Sep 3
Jan 14 to Jan 25
May 6 to May 17

Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment
System (BAS)

Grades 1-6

Sep 17 to Sep 28
Dec 10 to Dec 17
Apr 29 to May 3

Illinois Science Assessment (ISA)*

Grade 5

Mar 3 to Apr 30

Math Assessment

Grades 1-5

Aug 15 to Sep 3
Jan 14 to Jan 25
May 6 to May 17

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness
for College and Careers (PARCC)*

Grades 3-6

Mar 5 to Apr 20

Student Growth Assessment (SGA)*

Grades 1-6

Aug 15 to Sep 3 (pre)
Nov 1 to Jan 25 (post)

WIDA Measure of Developing English
Language (MODEL) / WIDA Screener

Grades 1-6
(English learners or
potential English learners
as identified on the D401
Home Language Survey)

Aug 15 to Sep 16

2018-19 ELM MIDDLE SCHOOL ASSESSMENTS
*Asterisk indicates state-mandated assessment

WHAT

WHO

WHEN

ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs)*

Grades 7-8
(English learners)

Jan 16 to Feb 19

AimswebPlus

Grades 7-8

Aug 15 to Sep 12
Nov 26 to Dec 7
Apr 15 to Apr 25

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)*

Grades 7-8
(Special education
alternate state assessment)

Mar 13 to May 8

English Language Arts (ELA) Assessment

Grades 7-8

Aug 15 to Sep 3
Jan 14 to Jan 25
May 6 to May 17

Illinois Science Assessment (ISA)*

Grade 8

Mar 1 to Apr 30

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness
for College and Careers (PARCC)*

Grades 7-8

Mar 5 to Apr 20

PSAT 8/9

Grade 8

Late September or
early October

Student Growth Assessment (SGA)*

Grades 7-8

Aug 15 to Sep 3 (pre)
Nov 1 to Jan 25 (post)

WIDA Measure of Developing English
Language (MODEL) / WIDA Screener

Grades 7-8
(English learners or
potential English learners
as identified on the D401
Home Language Survey)

Aug 15 to Sep 16

2018-19 ELMWOOD PARK HIGH SCHOOL ASSESSMENTS
*Asterisk indicates state-mandated assessment

WHAT

WHO

WHEN

ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs)*

Grades 9-12
(English learners)

Jan 16 to Feb 19

ACT

Grades 11-12
(College applicants)

Dec 8
Apr 13
Jun 8

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP students

May 8 to May 18

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)*

Grade 11
(Special education
alternate state assessment)

Mar 13 to May 8

English Language Arts (ELA) Assessment

Grades 9-12

Aug 15 to Sep 3
Jan 14 to Jan 25
May 6 to May 17

Illinois Science Assessment (ISA)*

Grades 9-12
(Biology students)

Mar 1 to Apr 30

PSAT 8/9*

Grade 9

Apr 9

PSAT 10*

Grade 10

Apr 9

PSAT/NMSQT

Grade 11
(College applicants)

Oct 10

SAT*

Grade 11

Apr 9

Student Growth Assessment (SGA)*

Grades 9-12

Aug 15 to Sep 3 (pre)
Nov 1 to Jan 25 (post)

WIDA Measure of Developing English
Language (MODEL) / WIDA Screener

Grades 9-12
(English learners or 
potential English learners 
as identified on the D401 
Home Language Survey)

Aug 15 to Sep 16

District 401 Assessments at a Glance


For brief descriptions of the District's main assessment tools, see below.
 

The ACCESS for ELLs assessment is an English language proficiency test required for all students who have been identified as English learners. "ACCESS" stands for "Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State," and "ELLs" stands for "English Language Learners."

The test assesses the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Different versions of the test exist based on age group (kindergarten vs. grades 1-12), format (paper vs. online) and ability (an alternate version for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities).

ACCESS was developed by the WIDA Consortium, an organization based at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ("WIDA" originally stood for "World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment," but the organization now goes by its acronym, "WIDA.")

The WIDA Consortium is made up of 39 U.S. states and territories dedicated to the research, design and implementation of a high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate system to support English language learners in grades K-12.

The ACCESS test is given each winter to District 401's EL-identified students in every grade, regardless of whether they are receiving EL services. The assessment window for 2018-19 is Jan. 16 to Feb. 19.

ACCESS for ELLs is required by the State of Illinois.

The AimswebPlus assessment measures foundational skills in reading/literacy and math/numeracy. It provides guidance to administrators and teachers based on accurate, continuous and direct student assessment.

At the foundation of AimswebPlus is general outcome measurement, a form of curriculum-based measurement (CBM), used for universal screening and progress monitoring. CBM is a form of brief assessment that measures overall performance of key foundational skills at each grade level.

AimswebPlus assessments are given in the fall, winter and spring to students in grades 1-8. Kindergarten students are given the assessments in the fall and spring.

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) measures students' learned reasoning abilities in the three areas most linked to academic success in school: verbal, quantitative and nonverbal.

Students in grade 2 are tested in the spring to determine strengths and weaknesses in their cognitive processes. With this knowledge, educators can make decisions that elevate each student's academic experience.

The CogAT is not an IQ test. It measures reasoning skills, such as the ability to:

  • Comprehend problem situations
  • Detect similarities and differences
  • Make inferences
  • Make deductions
  • Classify and categorize objects, events and other stimuli
  • Create and adapt problem-solving strategies
  • Use familiar concepts and skills in new contexts

Educators use CogAT data to:

  • Adapt instruction to student needs and abilities
  • Assist in the measurement of cognitive development for program placement
  • Identify students with discrepancies between observed and actual levels of achievement

The CogAT assessment window for 2018-19 is April 29 to May 3.

The Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessment measures performance on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. DLM is the special education alternate state assessment. 

Students in grades 3-8 and 11 who are identified as needing DLM testing participate in this assessment, which measures performance in English language arts, literacy, math and science.

The DLM is given in the spring. The assessment window for 2018-19 is March 13 to May 8.

DLM testing of identified students is required by the State of Illinois.

The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) uses one-on-one interactions between teacher and student to measure reading abilities.

The system allows teachers to accurately and reliably identify each child's instructional and independent reading levels, and then to document the student's progress.

In Part 1 of the assessment, the student reads aloud and talks about the system's original, precisely leveled fiction and nonfiction books, while the teacher observes and notes the reader's behaviors on carefully constructed forms. In Part 2, the teacher conducts a revealing comprehension conversation. Optional Part 3 uses a "Writing About Reading" prompt to elicit response to the text.

In addition to determining a student's reading levels, each assessment enables teachers to:

  • Recommend a placement level for instruction
  • Form initial groups for reading instruction
  • Plan for efficient and effective instruction
  • Identify students who need intervention and extra help
  • Monitor and report student progress across a school year and grade levels
  • Assess the outcomes of teaching
  • Inform parent conferences

Students in grades 1-6 take the BAS assessment in the fall, winter and spring. Kindergarten students take the assessment in the fall and spring.

The Illinois Science Assessment (ISA) is given each spring to 5th graders, 8th graders and high school biology students.

The assessment is based on the Illinois Learning Standards in Science, which incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards. The Illinois State Board of Education adopted these standards in 2014.

The tests for 5th graders and 8th graders contain grade-based items aligned to physical science, life science, earth and space sciences, engineering, technology and applications of science. The test for high school students consists of course-based items in biology.

The assessment window for 2018-19 is March 1 to April 30.

The state mandates this exam in compliance with federal testing requirements.

The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) is an observational tool designed to help teachers, administrators, families and policymakers better understand the developmental readiness of children entering kindergarten.  

KIDS is core to the Illinois State Board of Education's goal that every child in Illinois deserves to attend a school wherein all kindergartners are assessed for readiness.

Kindergarten teachers statewide began using KIDS in the fall of 2017. The implementation of KIDS throughout Illinois followed five years of piloting with select districts. 

KIDS focuses on the knowledge, skills and behaviors across four key domains that most impact long-term student success:

(1) Approaches to Learning and Self-Regulation
(2) Social and Emotional Development
(3) Language and Literacy Development
(4) Cognition: Math

KIDS uses classroom observations to assess kindergarten students' development in those four critical learning areas within the first 40 days of school.

The observations take place as kindergarten students go about their daily routines of learning and playing in the classroom. Teachers use the observations to place each child's abilities on a learning pathway, and they share the results with students' families.

Information from KIDS helps families understand what they can do at home to promote their children’s healthy growth and development.

To learn more about KIDS, please view the following videos prepared by ISBE. The first is in English, and the second is in Spanish.




 

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam is the state's assessment and accountability measure for students in grades 3-8.

PARCC assesses the extent to which students meet expectations for the Common Core-based Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics.

Student results on the PARCC exams are grouped into five performance levels:

► Level 1 — did not yet meet expectations
► Level 2 — partially met expectations
► Level 3 — approached expectations
► Level 4 — met expectations
► Level 5 — exceeded expectations

Students who meet or exceed expectations are likely to be on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and career readiness.

The assessment window for 2018-19 is March 5 to April 20.

PARCC testing is required by the State of Illinois.

The SAT suite consists of four standardized assessments that test students' readiness for college and career success: the SAT, the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT.


THE SAT


The SAT is the required assessment tool for Illinois 11th graders. Developed by the College Board, it is a standardized test widely used in college admissions.

Originally known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and later as the Scholastic Assessment Test, the exam now goes by its acronym, the "SAT."

The SAT assessment includes a reading test, writing and language test, and a math test. The exam also has an optional essay component, which some colleges require.

SAT questions focus on skills that are essential for college readiness and success, as determined by the latest research. 

Quick facts about the SAT's reading test:

  • All reading test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • Some passages are paired with other passages.
  • Informational graphics, such as tables, graphs and charts, accompany some passages — but no math is required.
  • Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.
  • The reading test is part of the SAT's evidence-based reading and writing section.

Quick facts about the SAT's writing and language test:

  • All questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs and charts — but no math is required.
  • Prior topic knowledge is never tested.
  • The writing and language test is part of the SAT's evidence-based reading and writing section.

Quick facts about the SAT's math test:

  • Most math questions will be multiple choice, but some — called grid-ins — ask students to come up with the answer rather than select the answer.
  • The math test is divided into two portions: math test–calculator and math test–no calculator.
  • Some parts of the test include several questions about a single scenario.

Quick facts about the SAT's essay component:

  • The SAT essay is similar a typical college writing assignment in which students are asked to analyze a text.
  • Students who take the SAT essay component are asked to read a passage.
  • They must then explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
  • Students must support their explanation with evidence from the passage.

Students who want to prepare for the SAT by supplementing their classroom learning with additional work have access to free test-prep resources from Khan Academy.

In its role as a state-required assessment tool, the SAT is administered to Illinois 11th graders in the spring. The testing date for 2018-19 is April 9.


THE PSAT 8/9 & PSAT 10


Designed for 8th and 9th graders, the PSAT 8/9 is a preliminary version of the SAT. The PSAT 10 is the preliminary version for 10 graders.

Developed by the College Board, PSATs have the same components and structure as the SAT, but their difficulty is commensurate with their targeted grade levels. One major difference between PSATs and the SAT is that PSATs do not have an essay component, which is optional on the SAT.

Like the SAT, the PSATs contain a reading test, writing and language test, and math test. Questions focus on the knowledge, skills and understanding that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success.

Beginning in April 2019, the PSAT 8/9 will be given to all 9th graders in Illinois, and the PSAT 10 will be given to all 10th graders. As with the SAT, the test will be given free of cost.

The introduction of PSATs as a formal assessment tool means Illinois high school students will receive aligned assessments in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. Currently, the state's 11th graders take the SAT as their required assessment.

The aligned assessments will measure student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics. The results will provide educators, families and students with extensive data about student academic growth from year to year.

The results will help educators tailor instruction and ensure all students receive the individual supports they need to graduate prepared for college and career.

Students who want to prepare for the PSATs by supplementing their classroom learning with additional work have access to free test-prep resources from Khan Academy.

For 2018-19, the SAT suite of assessments will be administered to Illinois students in grades 9-11 on April 9. 

In addition, District 401 will administer the PSAT 8/9 to its 8th graders in the fall of 2018.


THE PSAT/NMSQT


The PSAT/NMSQT is an exam taken voluntarily by 11th graders around the nation. It is administered each October, and the results are used to determine National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Those semifinalists are announced in the fall of the following year — i.e., students who take the PSAT/NMSQT in October 2018 will find out in the fall of 2019 whether they have qualified as NMS semifinalists.

The 2018 PSAT/NMSQT will be given on Oct. 10.

To comply with the 2010 Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) initiative for evaluating teachers, teachers must provide evidence of their students' growth as the school year progresses.

District 401 teachers do this by administering Student Growth Assessments (SGA) twice a year. SGAs are assessments developed or adopted and approved by a school district and used on a districtwide basis by all teachers in a given grade or subject area

SGA pre-tests are given early in the school year to students at all grade levels, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. SGA post-tests are given in the late fall and early winter, also to students at all grade levels. 

The assessment windows for 2018-19 are Aug. 15 to Sept. 3 (pre-test) and Nov. 1 to Jan. 25 (post-test).

The WIDA Measure of Developing English Language (MODEL) is a suite of English language proficiency assessments for English learner students in kindergarten through grade 12. It is designed to measure student progress in English language development.

The WIDA Screener is an English language proficiency assessment given to new students in grades 1–12 to help educators identify whether they are English learners. 

Students are given the MODEL or Screener assessments based on the results of the District's Home Language Survey.

WIDA is an organization based at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "WIDA" originally stood for "World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment," but the organization now goes by its acronym, "WIDA."

MODEL test items are written to WIDA's five English language development standards:

(1) Social & Instructional Language
(2) Language of Language Arts
(3) Language of Mathematics
(4) Language of Science
(5) Language of Social Studies

The items assess the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The listening and reading domains consist of multiple-choice questions. The writing and speaking domains consist of performance tasks administered and scored by local test administrators.

The WIDA MODEL is used to determine tier placement on ACCESS for ELLs, the annual language proficiency assessment of English learners required by the State of Illinois. It is also used to guide instructional and curricular decisions.

The WIDA Screener also aligns to the five English language development standards mentioned above. Like the MODEL, the Screener assesses each of the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing. It reports proficiency-level scores for each language domain and for three composite scores: oral language, literacy and overall score.

If a student is identified as an English learner, the proficiency-level scores from the WIDA Screener can be used by educators to compare across ELs and to plan differentiated levels of support for each child.

The 2018-19 assessment window for both the WIDA MODEL and the WIDA Screener is Aug. 15 to Sept. 16.

District 401’s Policy on Testing and Assessment


Our procedures and practices in this area are governed by District 401’s policy on testing and assessment, which can be found in Section 6:340 of the Board of Education’s District Policy Manual. The policy includes the following directives:

The Superintendent or designee shall manage the student assessment program that, at a minimum:

  1. Administers the State assessment system, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), to all students and/or any other appropriate assessment methods and instruments, including norm and criterion-referenced achievement tests, aptitude tests, proficiency tests, and teacher-developed tests.   
  2. Informs students of the timelines and procedures applicable to their participation in every State assessment.   
  3. Provides each student’s parents/guardians with the results or scores of each State assessment and an evaluation of the student’s progress. See Policy 6:280, Grading and Promotion.   
  4. Utilizes professional testing practices.

Overall student assessment data on tests required by State law will be aggregated by the District and reported, along with other information, on the District’s annual report card. Board Policy 7:340, "Student Records," and its implementing procedures govern record-keeping and access issues.