The Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) is used to test Illinois third through eighth graders in the fields of reading mathematics, science and writing. During these grades, the students' reading and math skills are tested yearly. Some years, they are also tested in science or writing. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Research, Evaluation and Accountability says that the results can help parents and teachers measure a student's learning performance. As required by the No Child Left Behind law, the results are also used to measure the yearly progress of schools and districts.

Understanding the Scores

Locate on the test results your student's score in one subject matter such as reading.

Check the ISAT scale score cut points (an example of the scale is available here:

Find the label on the scale with the appropriate subject matter of reading, mathematics, science, or writing.

Beneath the subject heading, locate on the left side of the chart your student's grade level.

Move right on the chart until you reach the range that includes your child's score.

Move directly up from this score range to find the performance level. It will say either Academic Warning, Below Standards, Meets Standards, or Exceeds Standards.

Look up what that level means on the ISAT's performance definition sheet (available here:

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  • To learn more about the types of questions your child was asked on the test, visit the Illinois State Board of Education's website to view sample ISAT tests. This site also contains more information about the exact skills the test assesses.


  • The ISAT format is subject to change, so a score for reading one year might not correspond to the same performance level as it did the previous year. The performance level that a score corresponds to depends on both the subject matter and the student's grade level. A score of 155 in reading may not fall under the same performance level as a score of 155 in mathematics. Likewise, the scale for a third grader's scores should not be used to interpret a fourth grader's score.

Things Needed

  • Test scores
  • ISAT scale score cut points
  • ISAT performance definitions

About the Author

Lindsey Rooney has been a writer for the past five years. She currently writes and edits articles for the medical trade magazines "Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry," "Med-Tech Precision," and "MedTech Executive." Previously, Rooney worked as a news producer for a CBS affiliate. She has a master's degree in journalism from Arizona State University.