Performance Definitions

The reliability of state assessments depends upon agreement about how good is good enough in student performance. How high must a student score, for instance, to reach the "meets standards" level in reading, math or science? What makes one answer better than another? To answer such questions, ISBE worked with Illinois educators to create definitions of the performance levels for all subjects.

Here are three tools for understanding the scoring of ISAT and PSAE assessments by performance levels: Performance Definitions, Scale Score Ranges, and Student-Friendly Rubrics. Click on the green checkmarks to open each section.

  1. Performance Definitions provide detailed explanations of what each of the performance levels means: exceeds standards, meets standards, below standards, and academic warning. The definitions are helpful in understanding the learning standards and performance descriptors.
    check Click to open view.
    cross Not available for this grade/subject.

     Subject
    ISAT PSAE
    GR3 GR4 GR5 GR6 GR7 GR8 GR10 GR11
     Reading check check check check check check cross check
     Mathematics check check check check check check cross check
     Writing check cross check check cross check cross check
     Science cross check cross cross check cross cross check
     Social Science cross check cross cross check cross cross check
     Physical Development and Health cross check cross cross check cross check cross
     Fine Arts cross check cross cross check cross check cross
  2. Scale Score Cut Points show the range of ISAT and PSAE scale scores that define each performance levels - exceeds standards, meets standards, below standards, and academic warning. The "cut points" are the numeric scores that separate one level from the next. Using these tables, the score any student receives on ISAT or on PSAE can be converted to their performance level. Keep in mind these scores represent the overall score that a student receives in a given test subject. In order to view performance based on scores by content areas within each subject tested please refer to either the Content Strands tab or the Item Analysis tab. The Content Strands tab shows the item counts by Learning Standard while the Item Analysis tab links performance on specific items by Learning Standard.

    IIRC also reports overall scale scores and performance levels on all state assessment for individual students in the student reports available to educators in their school data (secure access required).

    In January 2013, Illinois raised ISAT reading and math benchmarks. This means that since meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT is harder this year, the percentage of students who score as meeting or exceeding standards has decreased. This does not reflect a decrease in the quality of schools, teachers, or student work - it reflects higher standards.

     Subject  ISAT  PSAE
     Reading check check
     Mathematics check check
     Writing check check
     Science check check
     Social Science cross check
  3. Student-Friendly Scoring Rubrics explain what is needed to score at each performance level on extended response items, in language students can understand. Because the extended response items are a significant component in the ISAT reading and especially in the ISAT mathematics assessments, attention to these items can make a difference in performance. Sharing and discussing these rubrics with students is one way to assist their learning.
     Subject/Grade 3 & 4 5 & 6 7 & 8
     Reading check check check
     Mathematics check check check