Recently, Governor Daniels announced that ISTEP testing will be moving back to the spring. I believe this is the right choice for our children and it will provide parents and educators a better idea of what a child is learning during the school year.
Currently, children are tested in the fall on the previous year's material so educators spend much of the first month of school reviewing and preparing students for the test. Not only does this take time away from learning new material, but documentary evidence proves that over the summer children do not retain a significant amount of the material they learned the previous year. Testing in the spring will allow children time to adjust to the school year and enable them to better prepare since they will be tested on current material.
Spring testing will also enable ISTEP results to be calculated months sooner, providing parents the opportunity to begin remediation in the summer. Parental involvement is the key to assisting children that are struggling. If parents are active participants in the education of their children and stress the importance of learning to their child, he or she will be more open about receiving help. There are several options if your child needs to review, a tutor, an after school program, or a community program such as the Literacy Empowering and Advocating Project (LEAP) of Noble County. I also encourage you to speak with your child's teacher. Educators can often provide insight about what your child's specific needs are and how you could best assist him or her.
ISTEP testing in the spring will begin in the 2008-2009 school year. The current ISTEP will be taken for the last time in September 2008, testing children on what they learned in the 2007-2008 school year. Then, in spring 2009, children will begin taking the new test covering material learned in that current academic year.
The State Board of Education has finalized negotiations for spring testing with CTB-McGraw Hill and Questar Assessments, Inc., which will provide the new assessments. The new agreement will also reduce cost to the state. Currently, the state is paying $31 million annually. The new agreement will drop the cost to $29.5 million each year for two years, then to $28.5 million in the third and fourth years.
ISTEP in and of itself is not the solution to a better educated Indiana, but moving it is the right choice for our children. Addressing the education challenges in Indiana has to be a sustained long term commitment. Only by working together as policymakers, educators, and parents can we achieve the result we want, which is a world class education system for our children. If you have any questions regarding the upcoming change, please feel free to contact me at 1-800-382-9841 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also possible to write me at 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
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