There’s an old phrase, nothing’s sure in life except for death and taxes. We could probably make an argument for standardized tests as well (even Harry Potter took an annual exam in his mythical, made up school year).
These tests carry important consequences for teachers, schools and students, and in Indiana this year, students will take a new version of the state’s standardized test, the ISTEP+.
Simply put, the test will be harder. The content of the questions is the same, but the format will look different. For one, there won’t be as many multiple choice questions. Another change is that students will have to explain how they got to their answer.
Why are we changing the test?
When Indiana passed its own academic standards this spring, Michele Walker, Director of Assessment for the Indiana Department of Education, and her team were charged with creating a test to match the new standards.
An assessment matching the new standards was also a requirement to receive a No Child Left Behind waiver extension.
Walker says another change the IDOE wanted to make to the test, is adding a more focused writing prompt. Rather than asking students to write about something inconsequential like whether the cafeteria should add cake to the menu, students will be asked to read a passage and write a paragraph or essay on a related prompt, using the passage for evidence.
What will the new test look like? Show your work.
Ian Fernandez is a fifth grader at Childs Elementary School in Bloomington. He and his mom, Karen, tried out a few practice questions for the fifth grade math ISTEP+ and were surprised by all the changes.
Here’s the math problem Fernandez completed with a little guidance from Karen.
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Over 150 schools saw their rating dip, with 90 percent of Indiana schools receiving a B or C rating. (Biologycorner/Flickr)