County students start ISTEP testing this week

Second half of exam kicks off in April

Students in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. will begin taking the first part of the state’s ISTEP+ on Tuesday.

The test is for students in grades 3 to 8 and Grade 10, said Kim Kennedy, BCSC testing coordinator. Some high school juniors will retake the exam if they didn’t pass a second time when it was offered in December, Kennedy said.

The test, administered by Pearson, will be the same as last year, she said.

Students in BCSC grades 3 to 6 will take the test using pencil and paper, while the students in the remaining grades will take the exam online, she said. The testing schedule will be staggered during the testing period, which goes through March 9.

It will be up to administrators when they schedule the test within the specific time frame, Kennedy said.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. students up to Grade 5 will take the exam using pencil and paper, while individuals at the junior and senior high school level will take the exam online, Superintendent Shawn Price said.

The subject areas in which students are tested on the ISTEP exam will depend on their grade level, Kennedy said.

The breakdown of what specific grade levels will cover on their exams are the following:

Third-grade: English and math

Fourth-grade: English, math and science

Fifth-grade: English, math and social studies

Sixth-graders: English, math and science

Seventh-graders: English, math and social studies

Eighth-graders: English and math

Ninth-grade students who are in biology will take a biology exam

10th-grade: English, math and science

11th-graders who are retested will focus on the areas of English and math

Students who take the test with pencil and paper can expect to answer open-ended questions that will require them to answer with a constructive response, Kennedy said. Other students will be asked to write a persuasive or opinion essay based on a prompt, she said.

She offered suggestions that will help students do well on the upcoming exams.

“Get plenty of rest the night before,” Kennedy said. “A good positive attitude is key to doing well.”

Local students also can expect to take the second part of the ISTEP exam, which will cover the same subject areas, April 16 to May 4, Kennedy said.

That part of the exam will be offered online unless an accommodation is needed to take the test with pencil and paper, Kennedy said.

ISTEP is one of several state-mandated exams used to measure whether students are making progress, said Jim Roberts, BCSC superintendent.

BCSC saw 52.7 percent of students passing English and math last spring, which was slightly higher than the state average of 51.5 percent. The state average in 2016 was 51.6, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

The Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. in Hope had 54 percent of its students passing math and English, up from the 51.4 percent passage rate in 2016.

New test coming

This will be the final time students in Indiana take the ISTEP exam, which will be replaced by a new test next spring known as ILEARN.

The new exam focuses on the same academic standards with students in grades 3 to 8 assessed in English and math, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

Science will be assessed in grades 4 and 6, while social studies will be assessed in grade 5. In addition, end-of-course assessments will be offered in Algebra I, English 10 and Biology I following completion of the defined course.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com