Illinois Learning Standards

Classroom Assessments and Performance Descriptors

The classroom assessments are resources to help teachers determine local performance expectations for the Illinois Learning Standards at each grade level. Each assessment includes:

The Performance Descriptors are classroom resources for voluntary use at the local level. They are not intended to replace the Illinois Learning Standards. Instead, they supplement them by providing sufficient detail and examples to enable teachers to establish appropriate grade-level performance expectations for students. Whereas the benchmarks filled in detail on each of the standards at five grade-level clusters, the Performance Descriptors provide additional detail at each grade level and indicate how students demonstrate mastery of progressively more difficult content and cognitive skills over ten incremental stages of development.

Performance Descriptors identify ten developmental stages for each Learning Standard: stages A – H correspond to grades 1 – 8 and stages I and J correspond to early and late high school. We used stages instead of grade levels to accommodate the range of development that exists in every classroom. For example, we would recommend that a third grade teacher begin by looking at Stage C which was written with third graders in mind. But we would also recommend looking at Stages B and D.

Teams of Illinois teachers developed the assessments which also cover 10 stages. Teachers from school districts from across the state then field-tested the assessments and provided student work samples. Panels of field-test teachers and other educators validated the work samples at the “meets” and “exceeds” performance levels. Collectively, the writers and field-testers of these assessments have devoted thousands of hours of their time to create the classroom assessments.

These assessments are intended as a resource, not a mandate, to illustrate how student performance of each Learning Standard can be assessed at each grade level. They are not exhaustive. In fact, the intent is for local school districts to adapt these assessments to their own uses and to develop others using the Performance Descriptors as a basis.

A rubric focuses the evaluation of all student work on the overarching, essential elements of learning in that area. Each classroom assessment augments the rubric by providing the task specific kind of evidence teachers should look for in the student work. The general rubrics developed by ISBE’s Assessment Division for reading and writing were used for these assessments.