Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting was one of the longest in history because of public testimony on one issue: this year’s ISTEP+. After the Department of Education sent out testing times this weeks, educators and parents were outraged by the almost tripling of time students will sit to take a test.
Here’s the issue at hand, and it’s important to understand how our education system got here.
When Indiana stopped using Common Core standards last year and wrote its own, we were still required under No Child Left Behind to test our students on whatever standards we used. So the ISTEP+ had to change to reflect the change in standards. Educators have known since last summer that the test would be different, but the shock this week came when schools saw the amount of time the ISTEP+ would take.
And the difference is significant. Last year, a third grader spent a total of five hours and nine minutes doing ISTEP+ testing. This year, that amount jumps to 12 hours and 30 minutes. These increases are for every grade that takes the ISTEP+, not counting stress tests if a school has their students sit to complete those.
Opponents of this increase in length testified as such. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz repeated that Indiana is in this situation because of NCLB, and that people should contact their federal Congressmen.
A reason for the increased testing lengths is that since the test questions are new, and this test will be used in the future, a lot of the questions have to be piloted. The length of this test will only happen this year, but many said that’s one year too many for a student.
After hearing from parents, teachers and community members about the negative effects on this many hours of testing, the board voted to extend the testing windows. It doesn’t eliminate hours of testing kids have to take, but it does give schools the flexibility to spread those testing sessions out over a few weeks.
Here are the new windows:
ISTEP+ Part 1 Paper/Pencil Administration: Feb. 25- March 13
ISTEP+ Part 1 Online Administration: March 2-20
IREAD-3 Online and Paper/Pencil Administration: March 12-18