Perry Township Schools
An interesting debate is taking place on the merits of conducting achievement tests, the length, and the use of these exams in measuring not only student achievement but the quality of the educational program. The 2015 ISTEP+ test, specifically, is under a great deal of scrutiny because of its length.
On Feb. 23, Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law to shorten the exam by three hours. The measure also eliminated the social studies portion of the test.
The 2015 ISTEP+ is a new test for Indiana students and is aligned to new College and Career Ready Standards, as well as the new state standards similar to the nationwide common core standards. The test requires the state to compile a bank of pilot test items for use in 2016. In the overall spring 2015 ISTEP+ program, approximately 32 percent of the items were slated to serve as pilot items. Now, schools are only required to administer half of the pilot questions, thus cutting down on the amount of time to take the test.
The length of the test was reduced about 25 percent, from more than 12 hours to less than nine. While we support the Indiana Department of Education’s plan to reduce the testing time, we continue to be concerned about the time requirement of nine hours of state-mandated assessments.
All Perry Township assessment-related decisions will be made to best serve the educational needs of children. We recognize the stress that standardized testing places on students, parents and teachers. The district is committed to protecting instructional time; when permitted, we will limit our participation in assessments to only those that benefit students.
Your school board cares a great deal about the district and plays an active role in keeping abreast of the issues that affect the instructional program.
At last week’s public work session, assistant superintendents Vickie Carpenter and Robert Bohannon provided a presentation to explain the basic changes in the ISTEP+ test and how your school district is responding to these changes. As part of the presentation, board members participated in hands-on activities that demonstrated the rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order thinking and problem-solving skills.
The test has been moving from a paper and pencil evaluation to an online, computer- based assessment. Changes from 2014 to 2015 include multiple response questions and new computer-enhanced tools that require students to click on multiple tabs, scroll bars, drag/drop answers, drop-down lists, manipulate digital rulers, plot graph points, mouse over highlighted areas and more. It is important for our students to have a working knowledge of computer-related skills to score well on these tests.
Our instructional teams work hard to prepare students to take on the challenges of any testing situation: state assessments, national assessments, college entrance exams, military service assessments, interest inventories and others.