ISASP Scores Show Improvement

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Gordon Tuomikoski

The high school's ISASP scores compared to the state.

Gordon Tuomikoski, Features and Photography Editor

Last year, students took the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, or ISASP, a revision of the previously titled Iowa Assessments.

 The Iowa Assessments had been testing skills that weren’t necessarily being taught in classrooms, and the ISASP replaced it as a superior testing format meant to challenge subjects students had been taught.

Iowa Assessments were in the same format for many years even though there were several educational reforms happening,” said Guidance Counsellor Jedd Taylor. “For example, at both the state and national level there was a movement toward standardized curriculum, which in Iowa resulted in the Iowa Core.  The Iowa Assessment made no changes to reflect those reforms, so in reality, we were using an exam that did not necessarily test what was being emphasized in the classroom. The ISASP was the response to this and thus the testing now more closely matches the teaching, so it is definitely more useful.”

Although the new Iowa Assessment given last year is drastically different than the previous assessment, the administrative team and guidance counselors have discussed these assessments in detail.

“In these discussions we have had to take a look at the entire context: this was a new test, delivered in an entirely online format for the first time, given in the middle of an epic flood,” said Taylor. “So, I think we are happy with where are scores landed last year.  However, we never want to be satisfied and we look forward to using last year’s first testing as a baseline of comparison going forward and obviously we want to improve.

Students were mailed home the test results, and the school has been studying the results to further develop proper classroom curriculum.

“While it is nice to see that ISASP is more aligned to our curriculum and core standards, we also use the test to learn from them,” said Taylor.  “Remember, last year was the first time teachers had laid eyes on them also. So, we found out that things like ‘writing on-demand’ was a major skill necessary on the test.  As a staff, we looked at our daily activities and realized that we didn’t use that strategy as often as might be necessary to prepare for the test. Therefore, teachers are looking to do that more often.”

Some students who took the test for the first time last year disliked the essay writing.

“I’m indifferent about it compared to the Iowa Assessments,” said junior Nathan Rohrberg. “The only thing I disliked was the essay writing. It was very different and took a lot of time. We also didn’t get any feedback on our essays. I just think they were trying something new and it was new to us as well.” 

Some students felt like the test did nothing but give them practice.

“I felt like it was a bit pointless,” said junior Ethan Wyatt. “It didn’t count for anything, the only thing I got out of it was practice. The essay part was difficult and I didn’t get to see the results.”