Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) - FAQs
The Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) is a computer-based state assessment and accountability measure for all students in Grades 3 to 8. It assesses students’ knowledge and skills in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, as outlined in the Illinois Learning Standards (incorporating Common Core). The test is designed to provide critical information about student progress toward the long-term goal of college and career readiness.
All District 97 students in grades 3 to 8 must take the IAR each spring.
Results from the IAR give parents and families comparable data to understand how their child is progressing and if they are on track for college and career. Ensuring at least 95% of students participate allows schools, districts, and the state to identify trends for different groups of students that might otherwise go unnoticed. This critical data empowers us to ensure all students have the support they need to thrive and to modify our supports and instruction accordingly. The greater the number of students who participate, the more accurate the trend.
Federal law—specifically, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—requires each state to give a state achievement test to its students. Participation rates affect a school’s overall accountability score on the Illinois School Report Card. Click here to learn more about IAR participation.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law in 2015, tasks individual states to create a plan to ensure every child is learning and on the path to college and career. It includes the requirement of universal participation in state accountability assessments and defines universal participation as at least 95% of eligible students.
A school’s participation rate on state assessments impacts its rate of proficiency and its annual School Report Card designation. ESSA requires states to calculate proficiency by dividing the number of students who met or exceeded standards on the IAR by either the number of students who tested or 95% of the number of students who should have tested, whichever is greater. Schools with less than 95% participation in state assessments are ineligible to receive the “Exemplary” designation.
The average participation rate for the state of Illinois is 98%. There are currently two District 97 schools who are ineligible to receive “Exemplary” designation due to their participation rates in IAR testing. Our goal is to achieve 95% participation at every school, in compliance with ESSA.
No. Federal and state laws do not provide for any opt-out provisions. If fewer than 95% of students in a district do not take the assessment, a district will automatically fail to meet its accountability obligations and be at risk of losing federal funding, hurting schools and ultimately all students.
The goal is to achieve equity and obtain transparent data for families and educators, so refusing to take state assessments jeopardizes the accuracy of student learning data and the ability to utilize that data in support of all students. A single student refusing to take the test reduces the data educators have to design appropriate supports for a specific child. Additionally, the lower the participation rate in a school or district, the less likely educators will have an accurate data picture to provide needed supports for the whole school, impacting all students.
Under the state’s ESSA plan, a school cannot receive the “Exemplary” designation on the Illinois Report Card when it has less than 95% eligible student participation for three consecutive years. ESSA also directly incorporates the 95% participation threshold into the calculation of proficiency rates for the purposes of accountability. This proficiency rate impacts schools’ interim progress measurements and summative designations. Similarly, many public, online rating agencies—including GreatSchools.org—utilize IAR data exclusively for all of their rankings of school districts.
IAR is a computer-based assessment. Paper/pencil versions are available for students with IEPs designating this accommodation.
The tests are broken into five units—two for ELA and three for Math. Students will take one or two tests per day, depending on their school’s predetermined schedule. Each unit takes approximately 60 to 75 minutes, which makes the total assessment time between five and a half and six hours.
Students with significant cognitive disabilities will be administered the Dynamic Learning Maps - Alternative Assessment (DLM-AA). A student’s IEP will indicate if a student is taking the DLM.
A number of accommodations exist for taking the IAR. The student’s case manager and the District 97 Student Services Department will determine the appropriate accommodations, which are documented in the student’s IEP. We should also note that the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) is an alternate assessment system for students with significant cognitive disabilities. It shows what the students know in ways that traditional tests cannot.
District 97 students have been exposed to the content and skills presented on the IAR since the beginning of the school year.
In accordance with the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act, District 97 has continued to refine procedures to ensure equitable access to acceleration opportunities for all students. The IAR is a critically important measure in determining the mastery of grade level standards and must be considered by the school team along with other sources of data.
In order to begin to phase in these requirements, mandated participation (not performance) will be implemented this year. In subsequent years, a performance requirement will be added.