School administrators pleased with shorter ISTEP exam

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — School administrators across Indiana say they're pleased that the state has decided to shorten the spring 2016 ISTEP exam, but some would like to see further improvement.

The statewide test was stretched to 12 hours last year, which created a panic among parents and staff, and then it was shortened to nine hours as a last-minute compromise. State education officials said this week that the spring 2016 ISTEP exam will be no less than 5 hours and 45 minutes and no more than 8 hours and 30 minutes.

Many local school administrators said they're glad that this year's test has been shortened, because less testing is always easier on teachers and students, but they still don't believe it's perfect.

Jim Snapp, superintendent of the Brownsburg Community School Corp., said it's "a step in the right direction."

"Of course, we'd always like it to be less, but that sounds like it's more reasonable than what they started with last year," he said.

Wanda Legrand, Indianapolis Public Schools' deputy superintendent for academics, told The Indianapolis Star ( ) that less testing means there's more time for valuable classroom instruction. Schools always are appreciative when an exam is shortened, she said.

The ISTEP exam includes a mandatory math and English portion, which runs a total of five hours and 45 minutes, for students in third to eighth grade. The science portion that's required for students in fourth and sixth grade is expected to be 1 hour and 45 minutes. The social studies portion is given to kids in fifth and seventh grade and it lasts 1 hour and 36 minutes.

The longest ISTEP exam, which includes the English, math and science portions, is administered to high school sophomores. It lasts 8 hours and 30 minutes.

Paul Kaiser, superintendent of Beech Grove Community Schools, thinks a shorter ISTEP exam is an improvement but more needs to be done to ensure it's effective.

"ISTEP is not a growth-measuring test. It truly doesn't measure student growth," he said. "You cannot measure growth from one year to the next based on one test in the spring."

Kaiser believes the state should administer three short tests at different times throughout the school year to assess whether students have made progress.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star,

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