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ISTEP is out and ILEARN is in, but what makes this standardized test different?

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the first time in a long time, Hoosier students won’t be taking the ISTEP test this year. They’ll be taking a new standardized test called ILEARN.

We’re just 10 weeks away from the anticipated launch and state education officials say this isn’t ISTEP 2.0. The Indiana Department of Education says glitches and scoring delays are a thing of the past.

“We realized that overtime Indiana has had challenges,” said Charity Flores, the Director of Assessment for the Indiana Department of Education.

Those challenges have resulted in new legislation and the new test.

“So, we can best understand what a particular student knows,” Flores added.

The Department of Education says ILEARN is a fresh start. Nick Meyer is the District Math Coach for Indianapolis Public Schools. He’s also one of 500 educators who have been involved in the ILEARN process so far.

“What can we control? We can control what happens inside of our classroom,” said Meyer. “We’re encouraging our teachers to focus on teaching the standards. That’s our job, to provide high quality instruction and we’re doing that every single day.”

Every day, IPS teachers are looking at materials to prepare them for the day the test rolls out on April 22. What they know is that this test will be shorter in length. ILEARN will be computer based. It will only by one session, giving students more time to get familiar with content, and scores will come back to schools and parents faster.

“We have moved online as the primary mode of delivery and so what I’m excited about, as students engage with our assessment, they will start to see items that are best tailored for their level of mastery,” said Flores.

Right now, there are samples of what questions will look like online. Topics include mathematics, English and language arts, biology and U.S. government.

“We have practice tests available already for students, so those are being accessed out in the field right now. So, students can become very familiar with the platform and the content,” Flores added. “These decisions were truly made by Indiana educators for the students of Indiana and so this was not a decision made from the department specifically in isolation.”

Increasing transparency in hopes that parents and children will give ILEARN a chance.

“A high stakes assessment is one small piece of their identity,” said Meyer, “A really tiny piece of a children’s identity.”

Again, ILEARN will begin on April 22 and finish up on May 17. Scores should be available for parents by August 15.

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