The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Spring ISTEP anyone?

A bill requiring ISTEP testing to move to the Spring has advanced forward in the Indiana legislature.

I'll admit, testing students at the end of the school year seems logical to most people. Aren't most tests given at the end of the instruction? Well, it depends on whether the goal is to rank and rate schools or whether the goal is to help students learn? Let me put it in medical terms. They can't decide whether to give the patient an autopsy or a diagnostic exam.

Currently the fall tests are supposed to help staff make adjustments and reteach students who have problems on the tests. The problem is the results are so slow returning that very little remediation is really done on the basis of the results.

I would like to see a relatively short computerized assessment given in the fall, accompanied by another assessment in the spring to assess growth. This could be combined with a state requirement for each school district to have it's own writing assessment program in place. This would spare much of the expense of hiring state wide readers to handle the scoring.

The diagnostic test is given in the fall, and the autopsy (excuse the gruesome metaphor) is given in the spring. The writing samples can be handled internally based on statewide criteria.

After having said all that, my chief wish is that they would quit using us for a political football and allow our teachers time to adjust to all the changes.

My .02


Anonymous said...

As an educator, I support spring testing. First, many students have not had sufficient time to recoup skills lost over the summer months when we test in the fall. Secondly, it's January and we still don't have testing results to us at this point in the year. Perhaps if testing was in the spring we may actually have data ready to go for the upcoming school year.

I don't know that there's an easy answer. I also wouldn't mind a SHORT computerized assessment that could show growth, but with AR & AM tests three times a year, benchmark testing and ISTEP it seems as though we spend more time testing than teaching our kids!

When is the state going to quit emphasizing test results and start helping teachers better educate our students. By raising the bar we haven't necessarily improved our teaching measures or been adequately trained to do so. What a tangled web!

Anonymous said...

Alright, I need to say first that I hate the ISTEP in the first place. I administered it, read it, and didn't think that it was a credible assessment of skills. I don't think that it tests hgier order thinking skills enough, and I think the writing prompts (especially this year) are a joke.

However, having experience with a fall test, and coming from a school with a spring test, I feel that if you administer it in the fall you get an accurate representation of recall and true learning. When you test in the spring, you find yourself teaching heavily towards the test and lose focus of the big picture. I have seen it! Yes, we find ourselves doing lots of remediation now...but you don't have a clue what it will be like if you move this test to the spring.
I think the true answer to this problem is restructure the test to a format where we can get the results sooner. If that means a multiple choice test and then a writing state writing test at a later time, then so be it! Surely there is another way besides moving the test date.

Anonymous said...

"Currently the fall tests are supposed to help staff make adjustments and reteach students who have problems on the tests. The problem is the results are so slow returning that very little remediation is really done on the basis of the results."

And truthfully, how many teachers wait on those test results to figure out that SusieQ has a reading problem and that little Johnny has a problem in math. I'd bet I could go to the school Monday morning and ask each teacher how each student did on their testing and how were they helping that specific student to improve and they'd have no clue. Teachers are there to teach not to wait months for test results to tell them who needs help with a certain subject.