New year, new problems for Indiana’s ISTEP - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New year, new problems for Indiana’s ISTEP

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Just a few weeks after results showed nearly half of Indiana’s students failed the ISTEP test, students are getting ready to take the test again and school districts are fearful they'll have a new set of problems.

Sixth Grade Language arts teacher Amy Dean and her students know its crunch time.

“It’s still upsetting because our kids try so hard,” said Dean.

Fresh off learning the news that only 41 percent of Clarksville Community students passed both the math and language arts portion last year, third through eighth graders will take this year’s ISTEP in just two weeks.

“I'm very concerned we're going to be right back at the table with the same issues and expressing the same concerns to our legislators,” explained Clarksville Community Schools Superintendent Kimberly Knott. 

Teachers say getting last year's test results so late hasn't helped them prepare, plus there's a new test provider this year.

“We don't know what the formatting will look like we don't know what the kids will see,” said Dean.

Last year the test was plagued by computer glitches.

“Being in the middle of test, getting booted off and then your answers were gone,” explained Knott.

So this year, Clarksville Community Schools will revert back to the paper and pencil version for Elementary students.

“It is just an extremely different test when I was in school,” said Dean. 

Last year was the first year for a new and more rigorous version of the exam which required students to apply critical thinking. For example, on a multiple choice question there used to be just one right answer; now there are four right answers and students have to pick out the one that is the ‘most correct.’

Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz wants to do away with the ISTEP test altogether.

“The one size, fits all approach to the ISTEP test needs to end,” said Ritz.

But as that battle wages on in Indianapolis, teachers and their students are fighting the clock to be ready.

“We're going into it with the same attitude we did last year which is we're going to do the best we can,” said Knott.

Because students performed so poorly across the state on last year's exam, lawmakers filed an emergency bill to prevent the scores from counting against a school’s A through F letter grade.

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