IL in hot water over cancelled science tests

Following up on a story we reported about two months ago, Illinois’s decision to abandon its current science test for students in fourth, seventh, and 11th grade has put the state in hot water with the federal government, the Chicago Tribune reports.

We reported that the state had decided to move forward with a pilot for new science tests based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which the state, along with about a dozen others, has adopted. But other states continued to administer their old science tests, as required under federal law, to students once in grades 3–5, once to students in grades 6–9, and once to students in grades 10–12, even as they made plans to develop new science tests based on the NGSS.

Illinois was negotiating with the US Department of Education, seeking a waiver from the science test requirement, but state officials decided to move forward with their plans to ditch the old test before that waiver came through. And then, when the waiver didn’t come through as the state had hoped—and the feds found out that Illinois had already put its plan into motion—they sent Illinois a letter demanding they test students in science.

“We’re working on our plan to provide a science assessment in 2015-16 and will submit it to the US Department of Education by June 30, per the letter,” the Tribune quoted Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus as saying last week in an email.

As the Tribune noted, the decision to drop the science test from Illinois’s testing regimen was made at a time when tests in math and reading from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, were launching and increasing the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.