Spring Core 40 assessments to replace fall ISTEP+ this year

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By Beverly Jenkins
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Beginning next Tuesday, sophomores will be the only class sitting in an assigned testing room, preparing to take the state-wide ISTEP+/GQE exam.

The standardized test, issued since the early 1990s, is being phased out in favor of Core 40 exams, which will affect the Freshman Class of 2012 and every subsequent class. According to Assistant Principal Ronda Eshleman, the transition is state-wide and affecting high, middle and elementary schools.

“ISTEP measures progress from the year before, while Core 40 exams measure progress from the current year, and they are more course specific,” she said. Eshleman said that she believes reactions to the change have not been fully realized. So far, she said that she has seen a positive response from freshmen about eliminating the ISTEP+ test from the fall schedule.

Freshman Erin Kahre said that while she is happy to not have to take the lengthy ISTEP+ test this year, she prefers taking it over the Core 40 exams. “I’d rather take the ISTEP+ test because it is extremely easy and predictable,” Kahre said. “I don’t know what to expect with the Core 40 tests. Teachers say that it is going to be pretty tough.”

Kahre also pointed out that the month of May, when over 5,000 Core 40 tests will be administered, is also the month when kids will be preparing for finals. While Kahre may be happy about skipping the standardized test this fall, sophomore Alex Upwards said he is happy his class will be finishing with ISTEP+.

“The test is given every year from third grade to 10th grade,” Upwards said. “I’d rather finish with ISTEP+ because it’s an easier test to begin with,” Upwards said. The Core 40 exams designed for the ninth grade level are Biology I and Algebra I. Algebra I and English 10 assessments will replace the sophomore ISTEP+ test. What differentiates the two exams is that the ISTEP+ exam focuses on, according to the LearnMore Indiana program, solid reading, writing and math skills and is intended to make sure Indiana students master the basics. ISTEP+ also test students over the previous grade level. Core 40 assessments expect more than basic skills.

The elevated difficulty of the Core 40 exam is also something that both students and administration alike anticipate. “Of course (the transition) is kind of scary,” Eshleman said. “However, both ISTEP and Core 40 cover state standards, and Carmel High School is still teaching those same standards, so students should do just as well.”

ISTEP+ v. Core 40

Who: Sophomores will take ISTEP+ only this year. Freshmen and subsequent classes will take Core 40.

What: ISTEP+ covers material from previous school years. Core 40 covers the current year’s school material.

When: ISTEP+ will be during the fall semester, while Core 40 will be in the spring semester.

How: ISTEP+ covers reading, writing and mathematics sections. Core 40 tests are fitted to specific school academic courses.