Feb. 26 through March 1 and March 5 mark the dates of the ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress) testing for Jennings County High School students. The mandated standardized test is administered to students in grades 3 to 8 and 10 in every school in Indiana.
ISTEP is meant to test students on their math, English, and biology skills, and assess the performance of schools. ISTEP test scores, combined with other factors such as attendance and graduation rates, determine what grade a school receives, which in turn determines how much funding that school receives. Schools receiving a lower grade receive less funding than those receiving higher grades.
This has made ISTEP testing a very important issue for schools, and results in many schools focusing attention on the subjects that are tested. The test also drives many schools to teach their students test-taking techniques in hopes it will allow them to do better on the test.
During ISTEP week, schools become adamant about their students attending, eating breakfast and getting a full-night’s rest to prevent unnecessary distractions or delays in the tests.
Some students find the ISTEP testing to be stressful and disheartening. This is sometimes true of students who failed the ISTEP test their sophomore year and had to take remediation classes as a result and repeat the ISTEP test during their junior year.
Sophomore Sophie Barrett said this year marks the seventh time she’s had to take the ISTEP test during her educational career.
“I don’t think it should be the biggest measurement of how I’m doing in school. I don’t think it should be a large part of determining if I graduate. Some of my friends are not good at taking tests, and there are so many other parts of learning in high school and it doesn’t take all that into account,” Barrett said.
Senior Luke Cardinal said he’s glad he passed it two years ago.
“It seems ISTEP has such a high value, but it doesn’t have any benefit for my future college classes like taking the SAT test does,” Cardinal said.
Students not taking the ISTEP test this year have a 90-minute study period on testing days. This ensures testing students are not left behind in their classes and provides non-testing students an opportunity to complete more school work.
Ashley Browning is a senior at Jennings County High School.