Educators worry revamped ISTEP+ test will take too long

File Photo. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Some Indiana educators say they’re concerned that young students won’t have the stamina to complete the more rigorous tests being rolled out this spring to measure student achievement.

Their alarm stems from testing schedules for a revamped ISTEP+ test, Indiana’s standardized test for grades 3 through 8. The exam will be administered to about 450,000 students to assess their mastery of new math and English benchmarks.

Educators say they were told last year that the new test would be more rigorous. But several told The Journal Review that they weren’t prepared for the new assessments to take significantly longer than the former test.

An estimate of testing times provided to The Associated Press by the Department of Education Friday shows students in all grade levels spent an average of 5 hours and 9 minutes to complete all sections in 2014.

The total time for the revamped test, which is administered over multiple days and can include practice, will more than double this year for all grades, topping out at 12 hours, 30 minutes for third-graders.

“I was in shock,” Pleasant Hill Elementary Principal Robin Mills said. “I have great concern over the new testing schedule. … We were prepared for the more rigorous tests, but we had no idea until Monday that we should be preparing our students’ stamina for this type of testing.”

Hoover Elementary Principal Kim Nixon said she is concerned about how students with special needs who require more time for the tests will fare.

Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman told The Associated Press that the new ISTEP+ test adds more questions to the applied skills section to meet the new standards. The open-ended questions can take more time to answer, he said.

“The new academic standards are more rigorous than what we’ve had in the past, which means our assessment is more rigorous” as well, he said.

The ISTEP+ test will be first administered in early March. It will be followed by iRead, an assessment of third-grade reading skills that takes 2½ hours. Students who fail the test must repeat third grade.

Another round of ISTEP+ testing is planned in April.

Mills expressed frustration at the amount of testing students face, saying they will become “test-fatigued.”

“We are adults and we are supposed to know what is best for kids and this is what the D.O.E is doing to them,” she said. “Why are we doing this to our kids?”

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Information from: (Crawfordsville) Journal Review, http://www.journalreview.com

 

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