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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

For the Record: ACT, SAT and Teacher Basic Skills Test

In lieu of passing a basic skills test that many aspiring teachers failed, lSBE will now allow ACT and SAT exam scores to be used for admission into education colleges.

The revision, passed in an emergency rulemaking procedure this summer, comes two years after the Board raised the minimum passing scores across all subsections of the basic skills test.

Candidates who failed the basic skills test can submit a minimum ACT score of 22 or an SAT minimum score of 1030 as long as it was taken within the last five years, according to the new rule. The emergency rule is set to expire on Dec. 21, but before then, the Illinois State Board of Education is expected to make a similar rule permanent with the added provision that admitted students eventually pass the basic skills test.

The expanded benchmark should open the door to many more students getting into education colleges. About half of the candidates who failed the basic skills test on their first try would meet the ACT or SAT thresholds, according to a comparison conducted by the Illinois Research Council. A score of 20.3 is considered by the ACT to be the minimum benchmark for college readiness.  
The fact that so many students scored well on college admission exams but fail the basic skills test raises questions among some observers. In 2010, ISBE raised the bar for passing the basic skills test, requiring applicants to education schools to earn scores of at least 75 percent correct in math, 85 percent in reading and language arts, and 8 out of 12 points on the writing test.

ISBE Superintendent Christopher Koch pushed for the higher bar as part of a high profile campaign to improve the quality of teacher candidates. ISBE representative Mary Fergus said the emergency rule to allow applicants to use their ACT and SAT scores was not a reversal of Koch’s earlier position, but simply represented “another option for students.”  

Initially, education schools across Illinois pushed back against the higher cut scores.

Pass rates plummeted at first, especially among African American and Latino students.  Among candidates who took the test in May and June of 2012, about half passed the reading, language arts and math portion of the test. In math and language arts, black and Latino students had significantly lower passing rates.  

University of Illinois at Chicago Dean of Education Victoria Chou said there’s no evidence that the basic skills test predicts teacher performance.

“What matters is the quality of the program,” she said. “That’s where they develop literacy and critical thinking. Those of us who prepare teachers are entitled by the state to prepare teachers.  Over the past couple of years, I see the state take over parts of that authority.”


Anonymous wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

On the topic of evlauations,

On the topic of evlauations, statistics, and ratings....Apparently, anyone defending Prosser Principal Hunter is only good for Unity Walk posters (which he had made), but, not for Prosser's teachers as they lack trust in Hunter.

A University of Chicago survey of Prosser Career Academy High School teachers doesn't bode well for Prosser Principal Kenneth Hunter. One glaring area that needs support and is well below the average for CPS schools with a '42' rating is in the "Effective Leaders' area due mainly because of the WEAK rating of '35' in Teacher-Principal Trust.. Other areas which Hunter is well below average in are: Principal Instructional Leadership and Program Coherence.

Check out the survey here:

Jim wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Teachers Failing Basic Skills Test

No surprise. This was predicted by me in recent years wherever I commented. I was ignored.

There is just a lower caliber of people taking the Basic Skills Test who want to become teachers. Why? Because the state cannot attract the best people to become teachers by freezing pay, failing to fund pensions (deferred compensation), making a lack of student achievement ONLY the teachers' fault, lack of student accountability, more students in each class, lack of school discipline, longer school day, longer school year, no preparation period, several meetings a week, no time to eat lunch, and the squeeze will go way into the future.

I can still hear those in college dropping their education majors now.

My next prediction is to fill teaching vacancies with political cronies with degrees in Parks and Recreation. Provisional certificates will be printed by the millions. Then when an easier better paying job comes up where there is a shovel to lean on, the teacher will leave the classroom in the middle of the year.

Check out the charter schools. Especially watch charter schools that were viewed on "60 Minutes TV." There teachers had to kick back 40% of their pay to the school, but they got work visas. I could not understand the English teacher interviewed on TV.

Any surprise that there is a rash of teacher strikes after things have been quiet for 25 years?

Government at work.

An average Joe like me is not broke. I can predict what all the Congress men deny with their law degrees.

Congress is 20% richer than it was in 2008. What recession? Jay Leno

Clara Fitzpatrick wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Act Tests and Basic Skills

The average ACT score in Illinois for
Black students is 17. What makes anyone think that accepting the ACT in place of the Basic Skills Test is going to help them at all. The one thing that Vicki Chou said is true, there is no evidence that the Basic Skills test predicts teacher performance. She also should have indicated that there is no evidence that the ACT test predicts teacher performance. In fact there is decreasing evidence that it predicts first year college performance, the original idea, which many colleges are rejecting by eliminating the need for an ACT score for admissions.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

"Basic" Skills

There is nothing BASIC about the knowledge needed to pass the Basic Skills Exam in Illinois! I know...I took it. That's probably the reason they changed the name of it to the Test of Academic Proficiency. It was by far one of the most difficult tests I have ever taken and I am not an 18 year old college student. I am a Masters-prepared health professional. How embarassing for ISBE that they mandated a test that the average person can't even pass!

Sean wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Basic, as in high-school level

The test covers material that high school juniors are supposed to know and be able to do.

I would not want my children taught by people who cannot pass the basic skills test, nor would I wish it upon other people's children.

Clara wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Basic as in high-school

You should probably take the test. The purpose is to predict who will be a good teacher (predictive validity). It does not do this. The content and concurrent validity (high school knowledge as measured with high school graduates' knowledge). These have not been tested and it is my guess the TAP does not measure up here either!

Class of 2014 wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago

I really want to major in

I really want to major in elementary education ots the Basic skills test required for my major. Because if is hard as they say i really need to think of a backup major

Class of 2014 wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago

I want to major in elementary

I want to major in elementary education is the Basic skills test required for my major? or if you just want to be a high shool teacher? Im really determind to accomplish my goal and i know i can pass it if i put my mind to it but the only problem is i have an ACT score of 16 and a GPA of 3.4

Joe wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago

Basic skills test

Who would want to be a teacher in this day and age? Retirement with a weak pension will require you to work 45 years. Cuts, mass firings to keep wages low regardless of ability makes teaching a joke. The earliest you could retire on average is 67. Help the community, but you need to be able to eat to do that. Teaching will be a "job" for a year or so until a better field becomes available. The turn over will insane. School district 201 in Illinois has 20% not just passing, but a "C." Don't get me started on Charter Schools. They take the cream off of the top and 1/3 do better, 1/3 do worse and 1/3 do about the same as public schools. Education is a big ticket item and government wants ignorant people to vote. So there you have it. Save money for pet projects and create an ignorant society you can manipulate.

Mary wrote 1 year 11 weeks ago


Yes, Joe.

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