Illuminate Q1 Interim: Student ELA Testing Exemptions

Please be aware that it has been determined that the following students groups should be exempt from completing the Q1 Illuminate ELA assessment.  Please note that these exemptions apply ONLY to the current, Q1- 2015 ELA assessment and that all students will still be expected to take the corresponding Math assessments.   These ELA exemptions also only apply to the current Q1 test.  Participation in future ELA assessments will be determined at a later date.

  •  Pre-emergent, Emergent, and Basic ELL students
  • Grade 11 AP English students

We look forward to having continued discussions with you to identify what the most effective way to measure progress for these student subgroup are in the future.

Illuminate Constructed Response Items

Some of the Illuminate ELA Interim Assessments for Quarter 1 contain constructed response items that require students to type in a response that the system stores, but does not grade. In these cases, the teacher (or other test administrator) must manually enter the scores for only those items.

You can click on the following link for a listing of the constructed response items for each grade level:

15-16 Illuminate Interims Summary Q1

You will notice that there are no more than three constructed response items per test and that these constructed response questions apply ONLY to the ELA tests in grades 3-9.

In order to allow your teachers to analyze the completed results of the student benchmarks, these constructed response items should be graded by no later than Thursday, October 8th.

You can click on the link below for a complete set of directions regarding how to grade these constructed response items.

Grading Constructed Response Items__Online_Testing_Administration_

Those familiar with previous grading systems (such as ATI/Galileo) will notice that this process is both simpler and quick than previous systems.

Please forward these directions to any staff member who will be scoring the constructed response items within the test and as always, please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Illuminate Q1 Interim Assessment- F.A.Q.s

The Quarter 1 Illuminate Interim Assessments for both Math and ELA will open this Monday, September 28th.  Teachers will be rostering this test via their Illuminate dashboard account the same way they have previously done with the Illuminate practice test (you can click here for a reminder of now this process works).  The window for this test will remain open from Monday, September 28th through Wednesday, October 7th.

Posted below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions which should help you to begin working with your teachers to administer this test starting next week.

Who has to take the Illuminate Interim Assessment?  All ELA students in grades 3-11 should take the assessment.  All math students in grades 3-8 AS WELL AS Freshman Academy students taking Freshman Geometry and Algebra should take the test.

*Note: During the Spring 2016 AzMERIT testing, students taking high school level courses with an End-of-Course test will not be required to take the grade level test for that content area. (For example, 8th grades students taking Algebra will not take the 8th grade mathematics test. They will only take the Algebra I EOC test.)

Because of this, honors math students should participate in the SUSD Illuminate Interim Assessments as follows…

Course Illuminate Test Level/Subject Q1
6th Grade Honors Math 6th Grade Math Interim
7th Grade Honors Math 7th Grade Math Interim
8th Grade Algebra Algebra Interim

 How much time should schools schedule to take the test?  The ELA assessment is comprised of three to four distinct reading sections with corresponding questions for each.  The math assessment is between 22 and 35 questions (depending on grade level).  You should plan on scheduling NO LESS than two full class periods (i.e. 110 minutes) to deliver each interim assessment.  Please remember however that this test is NOT timed and appropriate accommodations should be made for any students requiring additional time.  Please do not attempt to schedule both assessments on the same day.

 How can I locate the interim in my teacher dashboard?  Both the ELA and Math assessments are set to each individual student grade level and are named accordingly (e.g. 15-16 Math Interim Q1 Grade8).  To find your grade level assessment, click on Assessment along the top-right corner of your dashboard and then select List Assessments.  You can then use the search filter to more easily locate your specific test (see below)

How do I roster the test for mixed grade levels?   Because each student will be taking the interim assessment which is aligned to their specific grade level, teachers of mixed grade classrooms will have to roster each grade level test separately for each group of students by grade level within their class.

Does Illuminate have any text to speech features built in?  Illuminate (unlike the AzMERIT test) does not currently have built-in online accessibility features such as text to speech or text size or background modifications built in.  Testing accommodations specified within the student IEP should be delivered using a staff facilitated, small group testing environment OR via the accessibility features which are built in to the individual student device.  You can click here for more specific details related to testing accommodations.

Do instructional staff who are NOT rostered to specific students in PowerSchool have the ability to schedule a test for students?  Yes.  As long as your support staff member is listed in Illuminate with a site level role (e.g. ”Coach”, “Principal”…etc) they have the ability to connect to all students within your school.  If you have a staff member who is unable to connect to students or teachers classrooms within Illuminate, please send in a request to Digital Curriculum via   or contact Bernadette Martin at ext. 2162.  Please be sure to list the name, job title, and username of the individual.

Do all Instructional Support Staff now have an Illuminate account?  Yes.  All of your instructional support staff should be able to log-in to Illuminate using their district username.  If they have never logged in to Illuminate before, they would use the temporary password susd12 and they will be prompted to update their user account the next time they log in.

Will students require headphones or earbuds for any part of this test?  No, none of the current questions within this set of interim assessments require any audio enhancements.

Does Illuminate have any highlighting or annotation tools?  Although the Illuminate system does have a simple text highlighter which appears automatically when students left-click with their cursor, it is a very basic function and the highlights do not remain on the page when students click off the page.  If students require a more extensive and functional highlighting tool, they have the ability to use the Scrible Toolbar Highlighter within the test to both highlight and add margin notes (see below).

Will we be using a “lock-down” browser for testing purposes?  Although the Illuminate system has the ability to run a lock-down browser (similar to the one used during AzMERIT) we will NOT be utilizing it during this first round of testing.  Please make sure that your teachers are aware that they will need to circulate and visually monitor student screens during the testing to make sure students do not open additional tabs.  The Hapara teacher dashboard which is available to all teachers in grades 4-9 can also help with this process (click here for more information).

Does the test “auto-save” student responses?  The Illuminate system is designed to save all student answers automatically “with each click” on the test.  If students pause the test at any time, their answers will be saved up to the last question which they responded to.

How should we treat students who have to leave school during the test or who are unable to finish during the school day?  Unlike the AzMERIT test, students who do not complete the assessment during a specific testing session MAY be permitted to get back into the test to finish the following day.  If the student has not finished the test but needs to either take a break or leave the testing environment, they should pause the test by clicking the on the pause button along the upper-right hand side of the page (see below).  Please check in with Hans Schot at ext. 2164 if you have any specific questions regarding test procedures or protocols.

Should a password be used for each test?    Yes. When rostering (scheduling) the session, select “Password” under Online Testing-Administration Settings and enter a password. (Keep it short and simple and different for each rostering.)

Do test items need to be randomized?    No. This will better facilitate sessions where a student is receiving accommodations.

Can students use calculators on the Interim Assessments?  AzMERIT calculator guidance will be used for the Interim Assessments and should be activated using the Online Testing – Tool Settings during the  rostering process.

Grades 3-6:         No calculators permitted

Grades 7-8:         Scientific Calculators as appropriate to the items

High School:       Graphing Calculators as appropriate to the items (Graphing calculators are not yet available in Illuminate, so the basic or scientific calculator tool may be used.)

We will continue to provide you with updated information on the SUSD Assessment Blog (linked here) so be sure to check back and subscribe to the page if you have not done so already.

As with previous testing sessions, please check in with the following folks for support regarding testing issues (see below).

Thanks for all of your help, and please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Illuminate Assessment: Student Accomodations

Linked below are the accommodation guidelines for the SUSD Illuminate Interim Assessments. The guidelines were taken from the AzMERIT Testing Conditions, Tools, and Accommodations Guidance for the 2015-2016 school year and revised for the capabilities of the Illuminate system.

15-16 Illuminate Accommodations

The assessments currently being createdd in Illuminate are computer-based and do not transfer to paper-based testing, so no paper or Braille versions are available at this time. Additionally, the Illuminate system does not presently support online accommodations, so most of the accommodations for interim assessments must be provided by a staff member.

Accommodations are based on the individual needs of the student. Be sure that each person is familiar with the allowed accommodations for any student to whom they will be administering the test. No accommodation may be put in place for an interim test that is not already used regularly in the classroom.

Illuminate Student Portal Authentication Repaired

On the morning of Friday, September 18th the Illuminate password validation system when offline.  The Illuminate development team has issued the following statement regarding this error on their part.

 “We had issues with the form validation section of the student/parent portal today that prevented some students and parents from being able to login properly. We’ve corrected the issue and things are back to normal. We apologize for the inconvenience. “

We have confirmed that student log-ins are back online as of this afternoon so you should inform you teachers that they can plan on resuming their practice test again on Monday, September 21st in order to complete this process on schedule for next Friday.

Once again, we thank-you for your patience as we work with the vendor to insure optimal performance in advance of our first interim assessment in October.

Illuminate: Math Practice Test Question #4

Within the Math Practice Test #1 in Illumnate, there is a  problem with question #4 not saving for certain students.   This is related to a coding error within the question which was created by the vendor.  The programmers at Illuminate are looking into the problem and will be providing us with an update as soon as information is available.

This problem should NOT impact your teachers or students’ ability to complete the test.  The assessment will still allow students to submit their test EVEN IF they have not submitted an answer for question #4.  Please remind teachers that since this practice test is NOT being utilized for the purpose of student data or assessment, it is okay if students skip this particular question when submitting their answers.

As we have stated previously, the importance of these practice tests is to provide our teachers with the opportunity to practice rostering and administering these assessments as well as to give our students the experience of working with the digital assessment tools prior to the first interim assessment.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to bring this coding error to our attention.  Having the chance to work with the vendor to identify and troubleshoot these kinds of issues should make future tests run that much smoother.

Rostering Tests in Illuminate: Split Site Classes

Update: This information applies to any teacher who has class rosters in PowerTeacher which are split between multiple sites (e.g. Freshman Academy Teachers, Specialists…etc).

If you are attempting to set a testing window for students in Illuminate and you have classes posted in more than one school site, you will need to switch your site in the Illuminate Dashboard by following the directions below.

Since student classes are specific to the school site within Illuminate, you will need to set the assessment window for each site where classes are set within PowerSchool in insure that the test is available on the student dashboard.

Illuminate: Confirming Teacher Rostering of Interims

As you instruct your teachers on how to roster their practice interim assessments for their students in Illuminate, remember that you can also check to see which teachers have set a date for their tests by following the directions posted below.

1.  In the Illuminate Dashboard, click Assessment and then List Assessment.  

2. Locate the interim assessment in the dashboard you want to check and click on it.

3.  Under Administer click on the Online option.

4.  This should bring up a complete list of all teachers in your school who have successfully scheduled their test, as well as the date in which the rostering was completed.

The color codes under the Status column will let you know what the current status listing of that test is…

Illuminate Practice Test Updates

Yesterday, several sites reported that students were not able to access scheduled practice or math unit tests when logging in to Illuminate. We contacted Illuminate and the error seems to have been resolved. If your site experiences any further issue with Illuminate, please have your ITC contact the HelpDesk ( so that the issue can be documented, tracked, and notify you when it is resolved.

REMINDER: Since the system is new to our district, it is vital that teachers and students take the opportunity to participate in the ELA and math practice tests. This will allow everyone to become familiar with the system and help identify login or other issues before administering unit or interim assessments.

Illuminate Training Resources

We apologize for the delay but all teachers should now be able to log in to the Illuminate System in order to complete the training which was outlined with you back on Friday, August 14th.

Because of the delay in getting teacher log-in functioning, we have pushed back the training deadline for teachers to Friday, September 11th This will provide you with an additional week to make sure that teachers have logged in to the system and have scheduled their first practice test for their students.

In order to make training easier, we have created the following presentation.

Illuminate Training Presentation (linked here)

Please show this to your staff to allow them to get in to the system and schedule their first practice test.  If you would like to customize this presentation for your staff, please feel free to make a copy for yourself.

Our trainers have also created a one page handout (attached) which can be printed out to share with your teachers as well.

Illuminate Print Guide

As you review the training with your staff, please remind them that…

  • All teachers must schedule their practice test with students by no later than Friday, September 11th.
  • All students should have completed the practice tests in class by no later than Friday, September 25th.
  • The window for the Quarter 1 Interim Assessment will open on Monday, September 28th.
  • Students may be prompted to change their passwords when they first log in to the system.  If this occurs, simply have them re-enter their student matric number again.