Reminder to parents: ISTEP is moving

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

According to the Indiana Department of Education (IDE) ISTEP testing is being transitioned from the fall to the spring beginning in the next school year. Testing currently takes place in September.

Students in grades 3-8 will take ISTEP tests in math and English. Students in grades 4 and 6 will take tests over science and grades 5 and 7 will be tested in social studies. These tests will be administered in mid-March for open-ended tests. Multiple-choice sections will be taken in late April.

High School students will see the most drastic changes in the program. Beginning with the class of 2012 (currently grade 8) the tests will change. They will no longer take the Graduation Qualifying Exam (GQE).

But while GQE is gone, the state will require a new battery of gateway tests - ones that make a lot more sense. These will be course specific and will be taken at the completion of the courses. Those tests will be given when the students complete Algebra I, Biology I and 10th-grade English. Passage is required before the student can graduate.

These exams will take place at the end of the school year.

Any students who fail the exam will receive remediation and additional chances to pass the exam.

The Event-Condition-Action (ECA) in Biology I is for state and federal accountability laws, but students are not required to pass the Biology I ECA to graduate from high school.

Current high school students in the classes of 2009-11 are still required to pass the GQE to earn a diploma, which will continue to be administered until the spring of 2011.

These classes will also be required to take ECAs when they are enrolled in Algebra I, Biology I and English 10. The plan is to eventually add Algebra II and U.S. History ECAs to the testing program. These results will only be used for the state and federal accountability laws and not for determining graduation status.

Test waivers will still be allowed under the new program. These waivers allow students to graduate with a diploma even if one or both parts of the test are not passed. To be eligible for the waiver, students must have a 95 percent attendance record for four years of high school, earn a C average in all academic courses, participate in remediation activities and complete additional requirements involving either a portfolio, coursework or career and technical credits.

Officials expect that taking the new tests at the completion of the courses should not only find students better prepared but it will help them in seeing what types of demands they will face in college or on the job.

The cost of the test statewide was $31 million annually. It will drop to $29.5 million each year for two years, then to $28.5 million in the third and fourth years. This will occur because of a new agreement with CTB-McGraw Hill and Questar Assessment, Inc. to provide the new tests at a lower cost than in the past.

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