At Harshman Middle School, there are colorful and inspirational posters lining the hallway walls, morning announcements will include song parodies, and a special Spirit Week will be held April 22-26 — allowing students to ditch their mandatory uniforms for special themed dress-out days.

Students and staff aren’t preparing for a sporting event. This preparation is all for the kickoff of ILEARN, the new statewide standardized test that replaces ISTEP for students in Grades 3-8.

Testing begins April 22 and runs through May 17.

To help alleviate those traditional testing jitters, Harshman and other IPS schools are getting students hyped and prepared, and making sure they feel confident and supported before and during the weeks-long exam.

“The goal is to get kids excited for ILEARN,” said Kendall Crone, a literary coach at Harshman. “In addition to the internal festivities, some of our community partners will be ‘adopting a team’ for the actual testing weeks. In the past, they have donated treats and snacks to students along with messages of encouragement. So, before they actually sit down to test, they have a little token to remind them that we are all rooting for them.”

At Ignite Achievement Academy @ Elder Diggs 42, one of the district’s Innovation schools, students will experience support from the community on Friday, April 19, during the school’s 2nd Annual Breakfast with Dads.

The event — for community men and boys at Ignite — features breakfast, student role model pairing, activities and more. The school is looking for 300 local men to come out and give students the motivation and encouragement needed before ILEARN testing, during and afterward.

Here’s what you need to know about ILEARN:

ILEARN

April 22–May 17

Grades: 3-8

The long-awaited replacement for ISTEP is finally here, and students in Grades 3-8 will take this new exam to measure their understanding of Indiana academic standards.

The standardized test for Indiana students assesses:

  • English/language Arts (Grades 3-8).
  • Mathematics (Grades 3-8).
  • Science (Grads 4 and 6).
  • Social Studies (Grade 5).

*All students enrolled in Biology will take the ILEARN Biology End of Course (ECA) test April 22–May 17. This includes eighth-graders taking Biology for high school credit. 

Resources: https://www.doe.in.gov/assessment/ilearn-families

How ILEARN Differs from ISTEP

There are many changes that parents and students can expect with the new ILEARN exam. Here are a few of the most important, provided by Strope.

  • The testing experience will be different for each student.

ILEARN utilizes computer-adaptive software. Computer-adaptive assessments adapt to each student’s mastery of the content throughout the assessment. Every time a student answers a question, his or her response helps determine the next question presented. The difficulty of the test will adjust to each student’s skills, providing a better measure of what each student knows and can do.

  • The time spent testing will be shorter and schedules less rigid.

There are fewer restrictions around how long and when students can take the test. Teachers and administrators can decide to break up testing sessions as needed and, because ILEARN is untimed, students can take the time they need, within reason.

  • Stakeholders should receive results much faster.

Beginning in 2020, preliminary score reports will be available two weeks after testing. This process could take a little longer the first year as the state will engage in a testing norming process.

  • What hasn’t changed? The Indiana State Standards.

The ILEARN will be based on the same standards as ISTEP.