City scraps test focused on basic skills

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Chicago’s decision to scrap the Iowa test makes the state’s revamped ISAT—generally considered a tougher exam—the sole high-stakes test students take each spring.

The ISAT will now be given annually in reading and math to grades 3 through 8 (and in 11th grade) to meet testing requirements set by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Science tests will continue to be administered in grades 4 and 7.

The district will now use the ISAT, rather than the Iowa, to determine which students are retained in grades 3, 6 and 8; whether schools are placed on or taken off probation; and whether schools meet NCLB requirements for adequate yearly progress.

The revamped ISAT will also include the Stanford 10, a nationally normed test that will be linked to the old Iowa to provide some continuity in comparing scores over time.

Scrapping the Iowa was a big change for Chicago, which used Iowa scores for a multitude of purposes over 30 years, including retention and probation and as a measure of the district’s overall progress.