JSD117 Seeing Success With New iReady Assessment Model

By Benjamin Cox on February 28, 2024 at 8:04am

Jacksonville School District 117’s new assessment model for elementary schools is showing to be an effective tool for achievement.

District 117 moved to I-Ready in a pilot form in the previous school year, and after positive feedback from teachers, moved it into full implementation this year across all of the district’s elementary schools.

This past Wednesday night, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Kelly Zoellner presented achievement scores for comparison on the national, state and local levels between the Fall and Winter assessments. The program showed that most grade levels across the district are about in line with national and state averages in both math and reading.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that its giving a clearer picture from both the teacher and student perspective on learning objectives: “It’s absolutely teaching to the standards that we know we want our kids to learn at each age group. We were using, like many other districts still use, NWEA for years. The data on NWEA was pretty similar to the iReady when you compared us to national and state averages. We are right in there with the averages, but the data from NWEA wasn’t presented in a way that teachers could take that information and create the interventions they needed to in their classrooms. We are really hoping that iReady gives teachers better information to help with modifications and adjustments with individual students. We hope in the long run that it will helps us improve even more.”

Ptacek says that even though there are a small number of schools in the state on I-Ready currently, he’s confident that the district isn’t seeing inflation in their achievement scores based upon a small sample data set: “NWEA has with the sheer volume of schools involved, you get much more of a clear picture of how you are doing compared relatively to other districts throughout the state and the country. There were still 7-8 million students between the reading and the math tests who took it across the nation, with 250,000-300,000 students taking the reading and the math tests in Illinois. Those numbers will increase over the next couple of years. I know districts are starting to move to iReady. Therefore, we will feel more confident that it presents a very clear picture of how we’re doing comparatively. Since there are less schools now, you do have to look at the list of the schools and ask: ‘Are we comparing apples to apples?’ When we looked at the list, there is a wide range of socioeconomic schools that are on the list, so I feel pretty comfortable that the numbers will stay similar even as the number of schools jump into the iReady game more in the future.”

Zoellner told the Board of Education that a final I-Ready assessment will be given before school lets out along with the standard State Board of Education in March. Zoellner says that I-Ready’s testing correllates really well to the ISBE’s mandated testing so that the achievement reflected in the winter testing will likely be equal to or even slightly higher during the March round of standardized tests.