ISTEP starts March 1st for Hoosier students

By: Michelle Anthony Email
By: Michelle Anthony Email

It's the countdown to ISTEP for Hoosier students, which might have some parents a little nervous.

Last year, some big changes to the test came with bumps in the road, leaving some students, teachers, and administrators frustrated. Here’s some of what they had to say:

"We're given lists of standards that we're supposed to teach and that's what we follow. We have a curriculum map and we follow that. Unfortunately, this test had questions on it that were not no the map yet,” said Bruce Shannon, president of the Mishawaka Education Association.

"A lot of kids became very emotional which caused teachers to become emotional and it was something that just kind of took everybody by surprise, hopefully in the future that won't be the case,” said Steve Mills, Superintendent of Mishawaka schools.

Part one of this year's ISTEP begins on March 1st. That's the open-ended applied skills portion.

Part two, the multiple choice portion, begins April 26. This is only the second year the test has been taken in the spring instead of the fall. Scoring is also different.

This year, Michiana teachers say they've gotten a running start on prepping students for the test.

On 16 Morning News, we're helping you get ready for the ISTEP. This week, we showed you some of the fun ways teachers are pumping up students to succeed! We also shared some sample test questions. Click on the video link above to hear from clinical psychologist Dr. Suzanne Courtney and Kent Kolbow from the Sylvan Learning Center about what parents can do to help at home.

Here are some tips from a 5th grade teacher in South Bend when it comes to the ISTEP:

The night before the test:

  • Go to bed on time

  • Encourage your children to talk to you about any concerns or worries they might have

The morning of the test:

  • Eat a good breakfast

  • Dress appropriately for the temperature of the room so you are not focused on being too hot or too cold.

  • Bring a nutritious snack to school.

  • Bring a water bottle to school the day of the test, depending on the teacher. Water makes up more of the brain than any other organ in the body. It is the first to get dehydrated which means it won't function at an optimal level.

  • Think positive.

During the test:

  • Pace yourself. Don't spend too much time on one question. Do your best, and then move on.

  • Relax. Remember that it is OK to not know everything. Not all of the questions are supposed to be easy.
  • If you finish early, check to make sure you have answered all of the questions

  • Double check your answers to see if you made any "silly mistakes"
  • Re-read your writing for punctuation errors

  • If you make changes, be sure to erase the old answer completely

Test-taking strategies: Extended response, math:

  • Make a chart to organize you thoughts

  • Show all of your work

  • Label everything

  • Write down anything and everything that you can - remember that partial credit is given
  • Write answers in complete sentences
  • Pretend that you are explaining your answer to someone who has no idea how to solve the problem. Be as clear and as detailed as you can. Do not assume that they will know what you meant to say.

  • Make sure that you have lined up the number correctly (ones, tens, hundreds) when you are adding or subtracting

Test-taking strategies: Extended response, writing:

  • Read the question first. By doing this you will know what you are looking for as you read.

  • Read the article or story twice so that you are sure that you found all of the clues.

  • Make sure that you have answered all questions in your answer.

  • Write with pizzazz. Use strong adjectives in your writing.

The ISTEP can be a daunting test for kids, especially the younger ones. So this year, teachers are using a little creativity to get them motivated.

Students at Bendix Alternative High School in South Bend made more than 300 green scarves to hand out to students at Harrison Primary. They started the project in January by raising money to buy the materials.

Teachers say the high school students have a positive influence on the younger ones.

“Lots of times they won't listen to old people like me say you need to study hard and you need to do well on your test but if they hear it from students who are closer to their age I thought they might be more apt to take them seriously,” said Carol Dennis, the supervisor for Bendix.

The students from Bendix will hand out the scarves to Harrison 3rd and 4th graders at a special assembly Friday afternoon. Muessel Primary Center and Tarkington school in South Bend are also holding pep rallies Friday.

Scroll down for links to sample questions and other helpful materials.

To look at the ISTEP schedule, click here

To check out the applied skills ISTEP prep booklets for each grade level, click here

For sample ISTEP test questions, click here

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