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Test Stressed

by ELIZABETH ENDERLE and SAMANTHA LEWIS - Students, teachers and administration discuss their thoughts on the new ISTEP schedule.

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Dec. 6, 2018) - For nearly every day over the past two weeks, each student in Westfield High School adhered to a new schedule, featuring a 90-minute supplemental period and 49-minute periods for every other class.

“A complaint before was, whenever we tested, we would test early in the morning,” Mr. Kevin Scanlon, Assistant Principal and head of ISTEP testing at WHS, said. “What we wanted to do was mix it up so there’s no one class that’s compromised, and everybody gets that supplemental time.”

The administration found that students sometimes focused more on the classes they were missing rather than the tests they were taking.

“The kids that were testing would test but in the back of their minds are like, ‘I’m missing US History, I’m missing Econ, I’m missing Government,’ so what we tried to do is develop a plan to say, ‘Ok, is there a time that we could have supplemental time as the kids are testing and then we go all five periods for 49 minutes?’” Mr. Scanlon said.

On the other hand, teachers and students found that supplemental periods benefited those not taking the test more than those taking the test.

“I think it was an interesting challenge for teachers to find out how best to use that supplemental time with students, and so the kids that were out of my class for ISTEP retakes, I don't feel like the supplemental time helped them out, but for the kids that were in the class for the supplemental time, I think that it was good for them,” Mr. Isaac Sturgis said.

The administration believed that their plan would benefit test takers and non-test takers alike.

“At first we were like ‘Nobody can do assessments. No one can do assignments during this supplemental time,’” Mr. Scanlon said. “[But] if you’re in, let’s say, for example, BC Calculus class or ninth-grade English class, none of those kids are testing, so you could have that supplemental time and do assessments or do assignments….You can do all of what you need to do, but the students that are in testing with those classes, we didn’t want them getting penalized.”

Despite these guidelines, some teachers who had students testing still used the supplemental time for classwork, causing their students to worry during testing.

“Some teachers went over new material, so I was super behind,” Tomi Bolarin (11) said. “I mean, when I was finished with the ISTEP testing and waiting for my next test, the entire time I'm all like, ‘Man, I need to know what's happening in English or AP Biology because I don't know.”

The administration hoped that the schedule will increase ISTEP passing rates.

“Come January 16, I’ll tell you that was the greatest thing or I’ll tell you that was the dumbest idea we’ve ever had, but we needed to do something,” Mr. Scanlon said.

Despite the best wishes of the administration, Bolarin doubted whether the schedule truly benefited him and his fellow ISTEP testers.

“I don't think the schedule would have made a difference on my actual test scores, but it did have an impact on my grade,” Bolarin said.

Mr. Scanlon acknowledged that the WHS community has had some concerns about the schedule.

“This was new to us, so this is the very first time we’ve done this, so we’re going to see how it goes,” Scanlon said. “There’s been some very positive things being said, and there’s been some negative things, so we have to bring everything in and see if it’s right for Westfield….Hopefully we’ll walk around and smile at the end of the day, but if not, then we go back to the drawing board, and we try to figure it out.”

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