Washington gets ready for another standardized test

Mike Grant | Times Herald

Washington Sodexo Junior Chef winner Brynna Omer shows off some of the prizes she won in the local and national competition. Her lettuce wrap chicken tacos recipe finished in the top 40 nationally.

The Bible says “to everything there is a season.” For students in the Washington Community Schools and other students around Indiana it is testing season. For the past few weeks the students have been taking some of the last ISTEP tests. School officials say they feel the timing this year is a little better than in years past.

“It is that time of year, but it’s slightly different in the fact it is backed up from previous years,” said Washington School Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach. “I know the feedback from many of the teachers is that if we are going to have standardized testing that the additional three or four weeks has been very helpful. It gives more time on task preparing lessons toward the curriculum and testing.”

While the ISTEP testing is closing down that doesn’t mean the students are done with testing. The state’s new ILEARN test begins on Monday. “We have had a lot of people involved in getting prepared for that,” said Washington Assistant School Superintendent Kevin Frank. “I think we are ready. Of course it is new and there is a lot that is unknown. If we get through Monday and Tuesday we should be OK.”

“Eventually the ISTEP test will completely disappear as we move to the new ILEARN format,” added Dr. Roach. “It really is anyone’s guess on how seamless it will be. It is another piece in the evolution of educational standardized testing in the state of Indiana.”

Standardized testing in Indiana has been an unwelcome adventure for many school systems around the state. Education and legislative officials may have kept the ISTEP name but changed the format and expectation levels at least three times in the last decade. Those changes often came with little direction from the state and piles of glitches.

“We can only hope we are ready,” said Roach. “There have been some hiccups along the way due to the testing company’s preparation and a change in the approach for inputting student data.”

Since it is all brand new, from the the curriculum to the testing format, officials say there are plenty of places where things can trip up. “It could be accommodations,” said Roach. “It runs the gamut. I know there have been changes on the Department of Education level on the way it’s going to be rolled out in some of the aspects.”

Schools will be working within a four week window to complete the testing.

In other business, the school board has accepted a proposal for a new summer trip. The board approved a request for Spanish students to do a 10 day trip to Costa Rica during the summer of 2020.

The board also approved a change in the school board policy on the rental of school facilities. The policy will limit the use of school facilities for political purposes.

And the board got to meet this year’s Sodexo Junior Chef Award Winner. Veale Fourth Grader Brynna Omer is the top junior chef in the Washington Community Schools. In the Sodexo National Junior Chef competition she finished in the top 40 of 221 school systems. Officials say Omer’s “Lettuce Wrap Chicken Taco” recipe checked all of the boxes that the judges were looking for.

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