New test will show students’ understanding of state science standards

A sample question from the Illinois Science Assessment, which was given to Illinois students for the first time in spring 2016.
A sample question from the Illinois Science Assessment, which was given to Illinois students for the first time in spring 2016.

The Illinois State Board of Education is in the process of scoring a statewide test that will give educators information they can use to improve students’ understanding of science in the future.

More than 400,000 fifth-graders, eighth-graders and high school students took the Illinois Science Assessment for the first time in spring 2016. They were tested on the new science standards that were adopted in 2014.

The results of the test could be used to make curriculum changes at the school and district levels, the board stated in a news release. But teachers won’t use the results to make adjustments for individual students based on their scores.

As the state board works to score last year’s test, school districts have started testing students on the Illinois Science Assessment again. According to the board’s website, the test window is March 1 through April 28.

The board stated that it expects to have the spring 2016 results by summer 2017 with the help of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“Partnering with a local research institution, instead of outsourcing the hand-scoring to an out-of-state vendor, keeps both the work and the institutional knowledge of scoring the exams within Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith.

Illinois students gearing up for Science Olympiad

On Saturday, competitors will come to Belleville from as far north as Pontiac and as far south as Carbondale for the Southern Illinois Regional Science Olympiad.

More than 800 students from high schools and middle schools across the state will compete in a series of 23 events in each division at Lindenwood University-Belleville.

“Students will be working on experiments in human anatomy and physiology, meteorology and astronomy,” said Sara Drenkhahn, assistant chemistry professor at Lindenwood. “They’ll solve crimes with forensics and use chemistry to build bottle rockets. They’ll build hovercraft out of everyday household items, just to name a few of the many events and activities that will take place.”

It’s the first time the event has been at Lindenwood.

The Science Olympiad National Tournament, which takes place at a different university each year, will be May 19-20 at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

State representative reads to kids at local daycare

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, celebrated Read Across America Day last week.

He visited the Creative Children’s Learning Center, a Red Bud daycare, to read Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” and another book to the children there.

“Read Across America Day is not only a fun day, but it’s also really important that we encourage kids at all ages to enjoy books,” Costello said.

The event, which is a National Education Association project, takes place annually on March 2. It’s also Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Chess competition draws metro-east players

More than 150 students from seven schools in the Diocese of Belleville recently came together for a day of chess.

The games took place Feb. 25 at Immaculate Conception School in Columbia.

Tyler Stern, an eighth-grader from Immaculate Conception, had a perfect 4-0 record. Overall, Immaculate Conception came in third place behind St. Teresa Catholic School and Our Lady Queen of Peace, which earned first and second place, respectively.

Another meet is scheduled for March 18 at St. Clare in O’Fallon.

Students honored for doing the right thing

Eleven metro-east students were recognized by Do the Right Thing of Greater St. Louis during a Feb. 22 ceremony.

Honorees were: Christopher Craig, Maleek Perkins, Prior Wells, Alyssa Hoover and Tarigee Hughes from Union School in Belleville District 118; Jerry Crowder and Keyonte’ Ellis-Price from Bernard Long Elementary School in Madison Unit 12 School District; Willie Harris, Kylie Kehl, Skyler Shanks and Bradley Wittenauer from Westhaven Elementary School in District 118.

High-schoolers compete in academic challenge

O’Fallon Township High School students competed last month in a regional Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering competition.

The team traveled to Southwestern Illinois College’s Belleville campus for the academic challenge and took home first place in its division.

Among the individual awards were:

▪  Annie Roberts, first place in the biology contest

▪  Jamie Dela Cruz, first place in English and second place in biology

▪  Adam Spihlman, first place in chemistry and third place in English

▪  Jeonghu Park, first place in computer science

▪  Jake DeLange, first place in physics and third place in math

▪  Hayden Gittner, second place in chemistry

▪  Mary Kate Porath, second place in English

▪  Katie Halwachs, third place in biology

▪  Billy Richards, third place in computer science

▪  Matthew Gilster, third place in physics

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes