State of Indiana Student Achievement Assessment Tools
1. How does Indiana evaluate student progress toward the mastery of the Indiana Academic Standards?
Criterion-referenced assessments such as ISTEP+ and Core 40 end-of-course assessments, are currently used in Indiana to evaluate academic progress toward mastery of what students should know and be able to do. These assessment tools are aligned to the Indiana Academic Standards. In order that students be able to demonstrate mastery of the standards, instruction in Indiana classrooms should also be aligned with the standards. Test results should reflect the level of success achieved toward mastery of grade specific knowledge.
The purposes of the ISTEP+ program
(1) To assess the strengths and weaknesses of school performance. (2) To assess the effects of state and local educational programs. (3) To provide a source of information for state and local decision makers with regard to educational matters, including the following:
(A) The overall academic progress of students. (B) The need for new or revised educational programs. (C) The need to terminate existing educational programs. (D) Student readiness for post secondary school experiences. (E) Overall curriculum development and revision activities. (F) Identifying students who may need remediation. (G) Diagnosing individual student needs. (H) Teacher training and staff development activities.
Indiana administers a criterion-based test (ISTEP+) in both English / language arts and mathematics that is aligned specifically to the Indiana Academic Standards. ISTEP+ utilizes both a method of testing basic skills that include multiple choice questions and a method of testing applied skills including short answer or essay questions and the solving of arithmetic or mathematical problems. All questions are appropriate for the designated grade level tested and should be aligned to what is being taught in the classroom.
New more rigorous, clear, and concise academic standards were adopted in 2000 in mathematics and language arts. These standards will first be tested in 2002 for grades 3, 6, and 8 and in 2004 for grade 10. The scores to pass these tests will be set at the levels necessary for students to demonstrate solid academic performance on the standards. These scores will not be set or skewed to cause more or fewer students to pass or more or fewer schools to rise or fall in category placements. The education roundtable may recommend and the board may set additional higher levels of proficiency to encourage increased achievement for advanced students.
Primary indicators of improvement and performance
The primary indicators of school improvement and performance are the following:
(1) ISTEP+ English/language arts and mathematics tests at grades 3, 6, 8, & 10. (2) English/language arts and mathematics tests at grades 4, 5, 7, and 9. (3) ISTEP+ science tests and social studies tests, when implemented, at grades 5, 7, & 9. (4) Science and social studies tests at grades 4, 6, & 8. (5) Core 40 end-of-course exams.
These tests collectively are referred to as mandatory annual assessments. Mandatory annual assessments shall be administered by the following schools:
(1) Public schools. (2) Accredited nonpublic schools. (3) Freeway schools - unless a freeway school contract provides for a locally adopted assessment. (4) Charter schools.
If the State Board of education determines that adequate resources are not available to support administration of all mandatory annual assessments, the schools in subsection (c) are required to administer only the following:
(1) ISTEP English/language arts and mathematics tests at grades 3, 6, 8, and 10. (2) ISTEP science tests and social studies tests, when implemented, at grades 5, 7, and 9.
The assessments are end-of-course tests of what students know and are able to do after taking specific Core 40 courses. They are aligned with Indiana’s Academic Standards adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education (State Board) in 2000-01 in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Like the standards, they reflect quality, consistency, and rigor.
The State Board of Education has included selected Core 40 end-of-course assessments as primary indicators of high school improvement and performance, as reflected in Indiana’s new school accountability system, as established by Public Law 221-1999 (P.L. 221).
Required end-of-course assessments are tests that every school will administer each year to every student enrolled in certain Core 40 courses. These assessments will be required beginning in 2004. The Core 40 end-of-course assessments are designed to measure student achievement of Indiana’s Academic Standards and schools’ alignment of curriculum choices and instructional practices to the standards. Schools are required to report end-of-course assessment data as well as the percentage of students completing Core 40 and the Academic Honors Diploma curricula on the Annual School Performance Report. At least six Core 40 courses are being considered as required assessments. Developing the capacity for statewide administration and grading will take several years, with two new end-of-course tests ready each spring for statewide piloting. To simplify test administration, pilot testing will occur only in the spring (April – June). These required end-of-course assessments will be phased in over the next five years.
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