Message From State Superintendent Tony Smith, Ph. D.

On Wednesday the Board will meet in Springfield for its annual two-day strategic planning session. During the meeting the Board will receive the preliminary statewide results for the first administration of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. Though they are still not complete, we expect these initial results will show that the amount of students who demonstrate proficiency on the PARCC exam is lower than the amount of students who were considered proficient on our previous state assessments. However, it is important to remember that the PARCC assessment is a different test that is aligned to the higher expectations of the Illinois Learning Standards and emphasizes students' critical thinking, concept mastery, problem solving, and writing skills.

Last week I sent out a letter to help you and your staff members to help frame your discussions about the initial PARCC exam results and provide appropriate context. This letter is posted here. Again, I want to emphasize that these preliminary results are providing a new baseline and should not be used to label our students and schools as failing or inadequate. We are simply operating under higher expectations, and I know our teachers and students will rise to the challenge as they become more familiar with the test and more rigorous standards.

As an additional resource during this score release, I am proud to introduce a new ISBE website dedicated solely to the PARCC exam and how it will help support student learning. PARCC Place provides access to fact sheets, online resources, and the latest updates on the test format and administration. I encourage you to take a look and begin to familiarize yourself with the site. Additional content, including an instructional video, will be available soon, so please stay tuned for further updates to the site.

I know there is tremendous interest and some anxiety as we prepare to review and evaluate the initial PARCC results. Change is both constant and difficult. We are working to give you as much information and support possible to help make the transition a smoother process.

Test results alone don't tell the whole story of student and school achievement, nor will we ever expect them to. The PARCC exam results are just one piece of our accountability system and will help us keep our progress going forward.