When the 2006 Illinois Standards Achievements Test (ISAT) scores were finally released in March 2007, there were questions about whether the results of the new test—with its new items, new format, new timing requirements, and new scoring procedures—would be comparable to prior ones. Amid all the controversy, less attention was paid to a careful analysis of the 2006 results in their own right. In this research brief, CCSR authors John Q. Easton, Stuart Luppescu, and Todd Rosenkranz take a closer look at the 2006 ISAT scores and discover some unexpected trends.
When ISAT scores from Chicago Public Schools are compared with scores from the rest of the state of Illinois, the authors find that the gaps between Chicago students and other students in the state of Illinois are much smaller in upper grades than in lower grades. This challenges the conventional wisdom that students fall further behind the longer they are enrolled in CPS. The authors also found that the big gaps between students in CPS and in the rest of the state disappear when racial/ethnic groups in CPS are compared to their counterparts in the rest of the state. In fact, some groups in CPS consistently outperform their counterparts in the rest of the state.
This brief brings to light genuinely interesting findings that are not widely known about CPS test performance. The authors offer an unusually positive representation of CPS test scores while cautiously pointing out the large achievement gaps exhibited by both CPS and Illinois between minority and nonminority students that need to be redressed.