Sunday, November 1, 2015

Preparing for the New ISTEP

Indiana teachers are no stranger to change. Our state has changed standards twice in recent years. In the 2014-15 school year, our accountability measure changed as well. Teachers learned in August that there would be a new ISTEP test. Without much knowledge of what to expect, and a whole new set of standards to learn and teach, teachers were overwhelmed.

Indiana teachers are used to aiming at a moving target, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. In light of the new test in 2015, we spent the entire year aligning our curriculum to the new standards (which none of our textbooks cover)! In addition, we unwrapped the standards and assigned each standard a DOK (Depth of Knowledge) Level. 

Now, we have another new ISTEP coming in the spring of 2016. Again, we have no idea what to expect, other than an even more rigorous test from a new vendor. Currently, we are creating common formative assessments. However, the common formative assessments alone will not help prepare our students for the rigor of the new test. Therefore, we need to make sure that our common formative assessments contain DOK Level 2 and 3 questions. More importantly, teachers will have to start asking these higher level questions in class. Everyday. 

Asking rigorous questions (DOK 2, 3 and 4) does not come naturally. I have provided Question Stems for Reading and Writing for FREE to anyone who would like to have a cheat sheet when you are teaching. Some teachers have chosen to laminate it and keep it close to them. If your students are not asked these types of questions on a daily basis, your students will not be ready for ISTEP, PARCC, Smarter Balance, or any other rigorous standardized assessment.

If you align your curriculum, use formative assessments to guide instruction and ask rigorous questions daily, then it doesn’t matter which test you take next year. The state can change the questions, change the vendor, change their minds (over and over) and we won’t have to stress about a moving target any longer. 

 Preparing for the New ISTEP

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