Juniors have a lot to deal with in the Spring, as do their parents. This time of the year, we are commonly asked about the PSAE test and what it means for our students, especially in regards to the ACT.
The Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) is a two-day standardized test taken by all Illinois high school Juniors over two days in April. On the first day, students take the ACT test. On the second day, they take a WorkKeys job skill assessment examination produced by ACT, Inc. and a science exam designed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The Board of Education began requiring the PSAE in 2001 in response to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate.
Illinois opted to administer the ACT as a component of the PSAE, arguing that the ACT is intended to measure readiness for college, allowing students to gauge their readiness for postsecondary education. ACT results from the PSAE may be used for college admissions.
The WorkKeys portion of the PSAE covers math and reading in order to measure standards not fully assessed by the ACT. The WorkKeys tests were developed by ACT, Inc. to measure how well students apply reading and math skills to situations they might encounter in the workplace. ISBE states that employers can use WorkKeys scores to assess an applicant’s suitability for a job.
✓Areas of Assessment: Reading, Writing, Math, Science
✓In order to be exempt from taking the PSAE exam a student must meet the following requirements:
✦The student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is incompatible with the PSAE, and the test cannot be modified to comply. In this case, the student takes the Illinois Alternate Assessment instead.
✦The student is not proficient in English. In this case the student takes the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English instead.
✦The student is enrolled in an alternative Education program, including an adult education program, or high school equivalency certificates.
Students receive a score on a scale of 120 to 200 for each of the subjects tested by the PSAE. A student’s raw score on any subject test is equal to the number of questions answered correctly. For subjects covered by two tests, each raw score is converted to an equated raw score. This process controls for changes in test difficulty over time. PSAE scores in all subject areas are associated with one of four performance levels: academic warning, below standards, meets standards, and exceeds standards. Students’ scores on the ACT, WorkKeys, and ISBE-developed tests are determined separately from their PSAE scores. A student’s raw score on the ACT is converted to a scale score that is assigned a value from 1 to 36. Scale scores have had the same value each testing year since the current version of the ACT was introduced in 1989, allowing for the comparison of scores over time. Illinois law requires that PSAE scores appear on students’ transcripts. ACT scores may not be included without the student’s permission.
The majority of schools in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Public Schools, New Trier and Stevenson, are giving the exam on April 24-25. Given its proximity to the April 14 ACT exam, it can serve as an extra chance at the ideal score or simply a substitute for the weekend exam.
By Gil Gibori, Director