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Details released about new ILEARN test

WSBT 22 Photo.

Students in Indiana will see big changes next year.

New details have been released about the standardized test ILEARN.

ILEARN will replace the ISTEP test starting next year for grades 3-8.

The state released blueprints for the new test, but school districts still haven't seen example questions.

That isn't stopping them from preparing for next year's change.

The biggest change is that you no longer need a number 2 pencil.

The ILEARN test, with few exceptions, will be done entirely on a computer.

"For some of those kids that haven't had nearly the experience navigating with a mouse, being able to use drag and drop tools, things like that. It's a new set of skills. Not only are you measuring the proficiency of content knowledge, you're essentially also measuring their ability to navigate on the computer with those skills,” said Sarah Hickle.

Hickle is the director of student learning and innovation for the School City of Mishawaka.

She says Mishawaka schools switched to testing on computers last year to prepare.

Hickle says she's been communicating with staff about changes the best she can, but there are still some unknowns.

"When you don't know what it looks like or how it'll be implemented or how your students will perform on it and you don't have anything to compare, I think that does create some anxiety,” said Hickle.

The state has created a website dedicated to the new test to try and relieve that anxiety.

The state says it has worked to make things more user-friendly, especially for parents.

"We want to make sure that parents are able to engage with their child's teacher to better understand their student's performance,” said Charity Flores, director of assessment.

One thing the state is still working on is defining proficiency.

The focus on proficiency is one thing Hickle wishes would have gone away with ISTEP.

"I think a lot of people put a lot of hope in ILEARN that it would move us further away from proficiency measures or achievement measures. So far we're not seeing that. The state is still very heavy on achievement and proficiency with on grade level content which doesn't allow us an opportunity to show growth,” said Hickle.

Part of the reason for switching to computers is that ILEARN will adapt to the student.

The next question given to a student will depend on if they got the last question right or wrong.

High schoolers will be given ISTEP for at least one more year.

The state is transitioning to using either the SAT or ACT as ISTEP's replacement.

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