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An introduction to Indiana ISTEP testing

THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2016 12:46 PM

Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus, or ISTEP, gauges student achievement across several subjects between 3rd and 8th grades. If you have children attending school in Indiana, read on to learn more about these important assessments:

What is the ISTEP? 
According to the Indiana Department of Education, Indiana teachers follow ISTEP blueprints when creating classroom plans for the year. These blueprints are available for educators covering information on English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The testing informs what the students learn all year. Children in grades 3 through 8 partake in several of these exams:

  • 3rd grade: English language arts and mathematics.
  • 4th grade: English language arts, mathematics and science.
  • 5th grade: English language arts, mathematics and social studies.
  • 6th grade: English language arts, mathematics and science.
  • 7th grade: English language arts, mathematics and social studies.
  • 8th grade: English language arts and mathematics.

These tests require both written essay answers and multiple choice options depending on the questions and subject matter. There are strict calculator rules, so be sure your child understands whether these devices are allowed during the math tests.

Why is the ISTEP important? 
The Indiana DOE noted that students take the ISTEP exams so schools can measure their learning. High scores indicate teachers properly instructed students on the information and topics the kids need to succeed on the tests and move to the next grade level. Consistently low scores may mean educators should reevaluate their teaching methods or even alter what they discuss and work on in class to better reflect what students face on the ISTEP exams.

The tests will help students get ready to advance to the upper grades as well as move on to post-secondary education. ISTEP scores do not affect students' regular grades, but the two are related. How a child performs on regular coursework may indicate the need for further education on specific subjects. Consider having your kids work with a tutor or their teachers on specific areas they are having difficulty in. 

How can you help your kids prepare?
When educators prepare their yearly curricula, they base the plans off the past year's testing scores and the information children need to succeed on the upcoming ISTEP. If your children pay attention in class and do their normal homework, they take important steps toward getting ready for the exams. Students may also try practice tests to become acquainted with the exam format and reduce anxiety.