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Indiana testing explained: Why do kids take so many standardized tests?

By Kirsten Adair, IPB News | Published on in Education, Government
State and federal guidelines require that students take certain tests to measure their growth, provide feedback to parents and educators, and help shape state policy. (FILE PHOTO: WFIU/TIU)

Some parents and community members have questions about standardized testing in Indiana and how it works. Stringent federal and state requirements for standardized testing guide how schools measure students’ aptitudes in specific subject areas.

Indiana students are required to take tests to measure their knowledge and help lawmakers make decisions about education policy.

Federal laws like No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act along with state laws determine school standards and how those standards are measured.

The Indiana Department of Education says statewide tests are built from the ground up with input from educators. One of the most prolific tests is ILEARN, Indiana’s statewide assessment for students in grades three through eight.

The IDOE is currently working on a redesign of ILEARN that will provide educators with more check-ins before the summative test in the fall. State officials say the new format will help teachers and parents better monitor children’s progress.

Schools will be able to opt-in to the new ILEARN test format during the 2024-2025 school year.

READ MORE: Indiana State Board of Education plans for ILEARN assessment redesign

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The IREAD-3, another prominent test, measures third graders’ reading skills. Many schools are opting for their second graders to also take the IREAD-3 so they can provide early reading intervention for students who need it.

Lawmakers will likely propose legislation to boost incredibly low IREAD-3 scores by retaining third graders during the upcoming legislative session.

Some tests like WIDA, a test for English language learners, are specific to certain groups of students. Identified English language learners are the only students required to take WIDA.

Almost all Indiana high schoolers are required to take the SAT during their junior year to fulfill state graduation requirements. Some other tests like I AM for students with disabilities or ASVAB, a military aptitude test, can also be used to fulfill certain graduation requirements.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.