Illinois writes off last written exam for high school juniors

Without the writing portion of the exam, the ISAT will focus on reading and arithmetic.

Illinois high school juniors no longer will be tested on writing skills during the state's standardized tests every spring .

The elimination from the PSAE means erasing the last Illinois writing exam. This comes after the state eliminated the writing section of the ISAT from elementary and middle schools last year.

"We have a many questions from parents and people in the community wanting to know, 'what is your reaction, and how will this affect Quincy Public Schools and our emphasis on reading and writing?" said Trish Viniard, the assistant superintendent to the district.

The writing portion of these standardized tests are individually scored, so by cutting those sections out, 2.4 million dollars will be shaved from the state's budget.

"We will not be emphasizing writing any less in this district," said Viniard. "If anything, we have been ramping up writing expectations in our district."

That's because Illinois and 44 other states are transitioning to a new Common Core Standard, with areas in literacy and math. The subjects of science and social studies are on their way.

"With the new Common Core starting in about three years, there will be new state assessments, there will be a new format, and it'll be on a different timeline," said Viniard.

It will also involve a higher level of knowledge. Students may be assessed 2-4 times a year.

"I think the state of Illinois was looking for a cost saving effect right now, knowing that they were moving and preparing for these new assessments which will assess writing," said Viniard.

As for Missouri, education officials cut costs last fall by eliminating the written response questions that had been hand-graded in science and math. Students still write some short answers as part of state testing.