State wastes little less time on ISTEP

KPC News Service

There might be no way to avoid the universally hated ISTEP test that Indiana school children must take every year.

But at least next spring, the unpleasant experience will be over more quickly.

Last year, the test stretched to 12 hours, upsetting educators and parents across the state.

Now, state education officials are promising the 2016 test will range between 5.75 hours and 8.5 hours, depending on grade level. Third-graders, the youngest to be tested, will have the shortest test. High school sophomores will spend the longest time with ISTEP.

The state also has hired a new company to run the testing process. Pearson Education is pledging that ISTEP should run smoothly next spring.

Under the most recent test vendor, CTB-McGraw/Hill, ISTEP has been plagued by problems. Two school years ago, taking the test online ran into technical issues that left many students unable to enter their answers.

This fall, the results of last spring’s test are being delayed by approximately three months from the expected delivery date.

The longer the gap between taking the test and receiving the results, the less value ISTEP has. In this case, the lag is likely to be around nine months. That’s a long time for a student to fret about how well he or she performed.

Students might not be as worried by the wait as school administrators and teachers, who these days are judged partially by how their pupils perform on ISTEP.

The bigger problem is that no matter how long it takes to learn the results of ISTEP, many state educators assign little importance to the scores. They place more trust in other tests that can be given more frequently throughout the year with almost immediate results.

Quick feedback from a test allows educators to diagnose student problems and take action to improve learning.

The illogical result is that we have the state of Indiana paying huge sums for a test that educators don’t trust, forcing schools to spend even more money for tests they prefer.

What’s more, state education officials spend a lot of precious time arguing and fussing about ISTEP.

At least, next spring, our students will be wasting a little less time on the mess that is ISTEP.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to