The Indiana Department of Education has released testing schedules for this spring’s newest student proficiency tests. The Spring 2015 IStep+ Part 1 test is scheduled from March 2-11.
Educators were told last year the new test would be more rigorous and taxing on students. After reviewing the parameters for the new test, local educators have major concerns. Among those concerns is the amount of time students in grades 3, 4 and 5 will spend taking the exam. It is estimated to take three times as long as the former test.
The state anticipates it will take third-grade students nine hours and 25 minutes. Fourth-graders can expect to face 10 hours and 40 minutes of testing, while fifth-graders will face 10 hours and 30 minutes of testing. Previously, third-grade students spent two hours and 30 minutes on the test.
Pleasant Hill Elementary Principal Robin Mills was immensely taken aback by the new parameters.
“I was in shock and could not believe what I was reading,” Mills said. “I have great concern over the new testing schedule. The D.O.E. is going to have 8-year-olds spend nearly 11 hours taking a more difficult test. 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 has the same concerns. She also is worried about special needs students who require more time and attention during these tests.
“We will have approximately 90 students who will be required to take even more time to take the tests. They will be allowed one-and-a-half more test time,” Nixon said. “I ask, are we fulfilling the needs of our students for the 21st century? I don’t think so.”
New Market Elementary Principal Chris Larson believes there is way too much testing and not enough time for teachers to teach.
“The rigor and level of
expectations placed on students and teachers has increased to the point it is hard on everyone,” Larson said. “The teachers want to do what is best for the kids and the D.O.E requirements make it difficult.”
The March test is just the beginning of a series of spring tests. Mills said one week after the March ISTEP test, third-graders will take the IRead test, which takes 2 1/2 hours and is stressful on students. If a student fails the IRead test, they must repeat the third grade. In April, the second round of IStep testing will take place for elementary students in grades 3, 4 and 5.
“This is not fair that our students have to take all of this time for testing,” Mills said. “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. They have to take long tests, and they will become test-fatigued, and it is for all the marbles. Why are we doing this to our kids?”
All three school administrators believe it is important that concerned citizens let state legislators know their concerns over mandatory exams. The next opportunity for educators and parents to talk with local elected officials will be at 8 a.m. Feb. 7 at the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast event at Wabash College. Reservations to attend the event are available through the Chamber.