Opinions about the ISASP


Grace McKinstry, Copy Editor

The 2019 school year has graced the students and teachers of Iowa schools with yet another version of the dreaded standardized test at which we all simultaneously groan when we hear it’s on the horizon.

The newly introduced Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) includes summative assessments in reading, language and writing, math, and science with an unlimited amount of time allotted for each subject. In some schools, these tests were able to be completed online, however, Washington students weren’t granted that luxury.

Some students in the state of Iowa were able to complete the ISASP using a computer while others were not. Because of that the test is predisposed to be an inaccurate representation of students in the state. With an individual assessment based on writing, it is undeniable that typing and handwriting are very different techniques, which have the potential to produce very different outcomes. Students who have the ability to type can often complete the task more efficiently, are able to change their wording and ideas more smoothly, and don’t have to take periodic pauses due to their hand cramping from writing so much. With a pencil and paper, it is incredibly more difficult to change what you have written if you come up with other ideas along the way than it is to simply highlight and delete text on a computer. This can make the task discouraging to many students who feel the same way and give an edge to schools with greater funding.

In addition to the difference in the methods used to take these tests, it also seems questionable to provide students with an “unlimited” amount of time to complete the assessments. If one student takes the average 60 minutes to complete an assessment while another takes three hours to complete the same task, it seems to add to the lack of standardization. Besides, if a student is given multiple periods to complete the test, isn’t there a possibility that the same student may look up how to do a certain math problem in the meantime? It seems like there is a massive risk for error in the accuracy of these tests.

Another flaw I see in the ISASP is that it is specific to Iowa. With the former Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), students were able to view their scores in comparison to all of the other students who took the same test across the nation. Now, students’ scores only compare to those of their peers who also reside in Iowa. The distribution of national tests allows students to see where they stand on a wider spectrum, more similar to the ACT and SAT. Due to this, mathematicians in schools, such as Robert Throndson at Wash, are asked to calculate an estimate of where students would potentially place nationally, however it isn’t completely accurate.

All in all, setting aside a total of six hours to complete the ISASP doesn’t seem worth it. It is situations like these that have all us envying the seniors who get to opt-out of taking these assessments and enjoy an extra two hours of sleep.