Elementary students 1st to start ISTEP tests

A few Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. elementary schools are beginning ISTEP+ testing today, the first day the state testing window opens.

But most other schools in Bartholomew County are waiting until next week.

Samantha Harpring, testing coordinator for BCSC, said Parkside Elementary students were to start testing today and other BCSC elementary schools also may do so.

Students at the district’s behavioral health center will start testing this week, she said.

BCSC’s seventh- and eighth-graders will start testing Tuesday and March 4, said Bill Jensen, director of secondary education.

Testing for students in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek school district also will begin next week.

Doug Heighway, director of guidance and curriculum at Hauser Junior-Senior High School, said seventh- and eighth-graders will start testing next Tuesday.

Hope Elementary School students will begin testing Monday, Principal Lisa Smith said. An ISTEP+ pep rally is planned Friday, she said.

Students in third through eighth grades in both school districts will test in one session of math and three sessions of English language arts — half the number of sessions originally planned. Fourth- and sixth-graders also will be tested on science.

The Indiana General Assembly approved legislation to shorten the duration of ISTEP+, the result of a scramble in the past week by state leaders alarmed by how long the test had grown. Before the legislation was approved, the test could have reached 12½ hours for some students.

The maximum total testing time for part one of ISTEP+ testing is now 3½ hours, Heighway said.

Harpring said the changes to shorten the test essentially resulted in two versions of the test, which are split evenly across schools in the state. Six BCSC schools will take one version of the test, and seven will take the other version, she said.

But while students at different schools will take different versions of the test, they’ll all take it using paper and pencil during this round of testing, Harpring said.

Teresa Heiny, director of elementary education, said the district chose to have students use paper and pencil for this round of testing rather than computers and always will if given the choice.

That’s because computers and software can create barriers and students often get frustrated with wait times, among other reasons, she said.

Jensen said students also are just more comfortable, for now, using pencil and paper.

“Whenever we have the option to do pencil and paper, we’ll do it,” he said.

Using pencil and paper also allows the district to test what kids know, rather than their computer skills, Harpring said.

And it provides benefits for students, who are more likely to take their time and estimate their progress better using pencil and paper, she said.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek students also will use pencil and paper for as long as possible, Heighway said.

The second part of ISTEP+ testing runs from April 27 to May 15 and requires students to answer questions using computers, he said.

How parents can help
  • Make sure children get at least eight hours of sleep the night before ISTEP+ testing and preferably two or three nights before testing starts.
  • Provide a good breakfast for students before school.
  • Reschedule any doctor’s appointments for students planned for the morning, when schools usually do ISTEP+ testing.
  • Be positive about the test. Don’t put undue pressure on your child’s performance. Reassure them that they just need to do their best.
  • Dress your child in comfortable/loose-fitting clothing.

Sources: Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp, Indiana State Teachers Association