ISTEP is out: Indiana’s new law changes standardized testing

One of Indiana’s new laws is changing the way standardized testing will take place in our schools.

The Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress, more commonly known as ISTEP, is being replaced by what is being called “ILEARN”.

A Hoosier teacher and teachplus fellow Jessica Carlson says she’s been working closely with lawmakers on the replacement.

“One of the main issues I found with ISTEP is that there was not an opportunity to know what the test was going to be like,” Carlson explains. “Because teachers didn’t understand what the test would be like, we couldn’t help students understand what the test would be like.”

Carlson says the new law specifically mentions “assessment literacy”, something she finds extremely important.

“That piece of assessment literacy is what will help us to know how students will be able to take the test and what kind of pieces they can expect,” Carlson says. “You want a test to actually show mastery of a skill, not to just show that they have mastery of taking a test.”

Currently students take ISTEP at two different times within the school year, but the new law will make it so students only have to test once. The ILEARN assessment will be completed in the last 5-6 weeks of the school year.

“We’re trying to minimize disruption for students, we’re trying to make it a faster test, we’re trying to get the assessment back to students, parents, and administrators much quicker. We’re also going to make the test more relevant so that you’ll end up having an assessment that has value to parents,” says Chair of the House Committee on Education, State Representative Bob Behning.

Behning says the assessment results will include links and learning aides that will help keep students’ progress moving forward. The new law will also offer multiple pathways for students to choose from to meet Indiana graduation requirements.

“I think it really shows a step in the right direction in really understanding what students need in our state, and also what teachers need,” Carlson says.

Students will begin taking ILEARN instead of ISTEP in the spring of 2019.