Mar 10, 2011  |  Today's News

Originally posted on Corn Corps by Kevin Daughtery 

The countdown is on----10 days until spring.  You know what spring brings….baseball, planting…..and ISATs. 

ISATs?  Yes the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.   This test has been given to Illinois students grades 3-8 since 1999 to measure student progress in Language, Math, Social Studies, Science and writing.   Although the ISAT testing window closing, all students across the state will be tested between February 28 and March 25.

 For many districts there is a lot riding on these tests.  Although you don’t want to blow it out of proportion, test scores are a measurement that many examine to carefully monitor the success of a school.  Schools want to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and have positive press in the paper.  Many concerned parents, teachers, administrator and school boards wonder about teaching ‘to the test’.  

Ironically, the test, as is any test, is a snapshot of the progress of a student at any given time….for this test it happens to be right before spring hits!  As farmers, you kind of know the feeling--your corn can look great in one spot, but not so hot in another.  Depending on if the rain came, or not, or the temperature or when you got it planted.  You probably even notice these variances on the yield monitor at harvest.  Unfortunately, for students (and schools) the snapshot is that one shot you get.  At Illinois AITC, we heard that call---and responded. 

In order to help prepare students for the ISAT and familiarize them with the test, IAITC developed “ISATs: 10 Minutes a Day the AITC Way”.  These short sample tests are designed in the same format of the ISAT test, and utilize our existing Ag Mags.   In theory a sample ISAT review would look like this:

          Day 1: Distribute the Ag Mag

          Day 2: Sample Vocabulary Test (based on the Ag Mag)

          Day 3: Sample Math Test (based on the Ag Mag)

          Day 4: Sample Reading Test (based on a reading sample related to the Ag Mag)

          Day 5: Sample Writing Test (based on the Ag Mag).

Teachers are using the practice exams across the state.  They like t because it is an ‘easy’ way to get student to think about the test.  We developed 20 different units to go with the 20 or so Ag Mags we have in stock or on line.  We like it because it is an easy way for us to get agriculture in front of the students one more time!

Speaking of Ag Mags, our re-designed Corn Ag Mag (generously sponsored by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board) has just been released.  They are available by contacting your county AITC Coordinator or check out our new on-line version.  You’ll notice a new theme that ties food, fuel and feed in with baseball--and the Corn Crib!

There is agriculture everywhere, even in baseball--and we drive that point home with our ‘baseball charm’. From the wood in the bats to the cotton in the uniform to the grass seed used on the field, agriculture is everywhere.  We find corn in dextrin in the tape and bandages, and HFCS in the soda and gum and even corn flour in the nachos!  The new theme, the corn and baseball trivia will certainly hit a homerun with teachers and students!

Coming soon, this ag mag will be interactive--with links and videos that teacher can use on SmartBoards in their classrooms to dive deeper into the subject.  Links will include video of corn plastic, games and readings from Illinois Corn and other state organizations as well as research related materials and some great clips that are played at the Corn Crib!.   Keep checking back--it should go up anytime!  When it is up, you’ll notice the links are highlighted with a light green leaf.  Just look for the leaf!

It is a busy time of year at AITC, ISATs promoting new materials at various conferences and events.  We will continue our work showing what the Illinois Farmer does with our FACEBOOK  page, including videos and photos of planting!

So as you get ready to plant--think of spring, baseball, ISATs and Ag in the Classroom!

Kevin Daugherty

Education Director

Illinois AITC