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 exams required by the state, such as the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (grades 3-8) and the SAT (grade 11) exams. Others are more localized, such as student growth assessments given by District teachers at various times during the 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.
Assessment Tools 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 2020-21 is Jan. 13 to Feb. 16, 2021.
ACCESS for ELLs is required by the State of Illinois.
The ACT test, introduced in 1959, is one of the leading college and career readiness tests in the United States, measuring what students have learned in school to gauge their level of preparation for first-year college coursework.
The exam provides standardized data on student achievement and readiness, making it a valuable tool for educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support and evaluation.
The ACT consists of the following subject area tests:
- English — 75 questions, 45 minutes, multiple choice
- Math — 60 questions, 60 minutes, multiple choice
- Science — 40 questions, 35 minutes, multiple choice
- Writing (optional) — one writing prompt, 40 minutes, open-ended essay
Testing time is two hours and 55 minutes without the writing option. This increases to three hours and 35 minutes if the writing option is added.
Taking the ACT is optional for District 401 students.
American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on AP exams, which are given nationwide each May.
AP tests are scored on a 1 to 5 scale as follows:
- 5 — Extremely well qualified
- 4 — Well qualified
- 3 — Qualified
- 2 — Possibly qualified
- 1 — No recommendation
Elmwood Park High School currently offers more than 20 AP courses:
- Art | AP Drawing
- Art | AP 2-D Art and Design
- Art | AP 3-D Art and Design
- Business | AP Computer Science Principles
- English | AP English Language and Composition
- English | AP English Literature and Composition
- Foreign Language | AP Spanish
- Foreign Language | AP Italian Language (2020-21)
- Foreign Language AP Spanish Language (2020-21)
- Math | AP Calculus AB
- Math | AP Calculus BC
- Math | AP Statistics I/II
- Music | AP Music Theory (2020-21)
- Science | AP Chemistry
- Science | AP Physics 1
- Science | AP Physics 2
- Science | AP Biology (2020-21)
- Social Studies | AP Human Geography
- Social Studies | AP United States Government and Politics
- Social Studies | AP United States History
- Social Studies | AP World History
- Social Studies | AP Psychology (2020-21)
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.
Students in grades K-8 are given aimswebPlus assessments in the fall, winter and spring. The assessment windows for 2020-21 are the following:
- Fall: Sept. 28-Oct. 16, 2020
- Winter: Jan. 11-22, 2021
- Spring: May 17-28, 2021
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 grades 2 and 5 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 2020-21 is April 2021.
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.
Current grade 12 students without a valid grade 11 or 12 score or qualifying exemption from any previous grade 11 or 12 DLM-AA administration will be rostered to take DLM-AA in spring 2021 in ELA/literacy and mathematics.
The DLM is given in the spring. The assessment window for 2020-21 is March 10 to May 5, 2021.
DLM testing of identified students is required by the State of Illinois.
The Illinois Assessment for Readiness (IAR) exam is the state's assessment and accountability measure for students in grades 3-8.
Student results on the IAR 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 2020-21 is to be determined.
IAR testing is required by the State of Illinois.
The Illinois Physical Fitness Assessment is designed to meet State Goal 20, which calls for students to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.
For most students, the assessment encompasses aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance.
Students in most grades are assessed each year, but results are reported to the state for only grades 5, 7 and 10.
The physical fitness assessment window for 2020-21 is January to May 2021.
The Illinois Science Assessment (ISA) is given each spring to 5th graders, 8th graders and 11 graders.
The ISA contains grade-based items aligned to physical science, life science, earth and space sciences, engineering, technology and applications of science.
Beginning in spring 2020, all students who are 11th graders at the time of testing must participate in the ISA. This includes students who have participated in any ISA administration of course-based biology in previous years. Grade 11 students for whom DLM-AA is the more appropriate assessment will continue to participate in the grade 11 DLM-AA science assessment in lieu of the grade 11 ISA.
The assessment window for 2020-21 is March 1 to April 30, 2021.
The state mandates the ISA 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.
The 2020-21 KIDS assessment window is August to October 2020.
To learn more about KIDS, please view the following videos prepared by ISBE. The first is in English, and the second is in Spanish.
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 2020-21 is April 13, 2021.
THE PSAT 8/9 & PSAT 10
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.
Since April 2019, the PSAT 8/9 is given to all 9th graders in Illinois, and the PSAT 10 is given to all 10th graders. As with the SAT, the test is administered free of cost.
The introduction of PSATs as a formal assessment tool means Illinois high school students receive aligned assessments in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. (As mentioned above, the state's 11th graders take the SAT as their required assessment.)
The aligned assessments measure student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts and mathematics. The results provide educators, families and students with extensive data about student academic growth from year to year.
The results 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 2020-21, the SAT suite of assessments will be administered to Illinois students in grades 9-11 in April 2020. Elmwood Park High School students will take their respective tests (PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10) during the primary testing dates of April 13-15, 2021.
Those semifinalists are announced in the fall of the following year — i.e., students who took the PSAT/NMSQT in October 2019 find out in the fall of 2020 whether they have qualified as NMS semifinalists.
The 2020 PSAT/NMSQT will be given nationally in October. The primary test day is Oct. 14, 2020, with a Saturday test day of Oct. 17 and an alternate test day of Oct. 29 (formerly Oct. 28).
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children develop awareness and management of their emotions, set and achieve important personal and academic goals, use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships, and demonstrate decision-making and responsible behaviors to achieve school and life success.
The Illinois State Board of Education has established a set of SEL goals, standards and benchmarks that students should know and be able to do in early elementary school (K-3), late elementary school (4-5), middle school (6-8), early high school (9-10) and late high school (grades 11-12).
Three overarching SEL goals apply to all students regardless of grade level:
- Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success. Click here to see how this applies to the five grade groups mentioned above.
- Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships. Click here to see how this applies to the five grade groups mentioned above.
- Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school and community contexts. Click here to see how this applies to the five grade groups mentioned above.
During the 2020-21 school year, pre-test SEL assessment for students in grades 1-5 will be completed by Sept. 17, 2020. Post-test assessment will be completed by May 21, 2021.
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 later in the year to students at all grade levels.
The pre-test window for 2020-21 is Aug. 31 to Sept. 11, 2020.
Post-test dates will be determined by grade-level teams.
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:
- 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.
- Informs students of the timelines and procedures applicable to their participation in every State assessment.
- 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.
- Utilizes professional testing practices.
Overall student assessment data on tests required by State law will be aggregated by the District and reported on the District's annual report card. Board Policy 7:340, "Student Records," and its implementing procedures govern record-keeping and access issues.