Zionsville Community Schools

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Academics » Standardized Assessment Information

Standardized Assessment Information

Educators in Zionsville Community Schools use a variety of standardized assessment tools to learn more about student needs and achievement.  Some of these tests are required by state law.  Others have been thoughtfully chosen by ZCS teachers to provide information about student needs so that they may adjust instruction appropriately during the school year. 

We realize many of these assessments are not familiar to parents, so below we have briefly summarized the names and descriptions of our major standardized assessments.  For more information, please contact school guidance counselors who are quite familiar with these assessments.  The schedule for testing windows for the school year can be found on our district website or by contacting your child’s school office. 

AIMSWeb Benchmark Assessments (Grades 1-8)

AIMSWeb is a progress monitoring system that allows teachers to quickly assess students’ reading fluency, their basic reading comprehension, and basic math skills.  AIMSWeb tests are typically brief.  The measure of reading fluency, for instance, is a text given to a student to read aloud for one minute allowing the teacher to assess the student’s rate and accuracy as an oral reader.  Math probes are brief quizzes, typically about 30 questions, covering a wide range of math skills.  Teachers can compare results to national grade-level norms to determine student percentiles, showing how they perform relative to grade-level peers nationally. AIMSWeb probes/prompts can be given throughout the year, allowing benchmarking of student progress and growth.  Results are logged into a web-based management system allowing teachers to print reports for their own use or to share with parents/students as needed. AIMSWeb is used more frequently with elementary students and students who are working to close gaps in their learning skills so that teachers can determine if the students are responding to instruction.

IREAD-3 (Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination) (Grade 3)

The IREAD-3 assessment is a test of basic reading skills that was developed by the Indiana Department of Education in accordance with Public Law 109. This law requires all third grade students to be assessed in reading foundational skills and to meet third grade proficiency before moving on to fourth grade.  State law mandates remediation, retesting, and possible grade level retention for students not meeting proficiency on the IREAD-3 assessment. 

Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP+) (Grades 3-8 and 10)

Students in grades 3rd-8th and 10th take the ISTEP+ test in the spring of each year during two different windows (the first in March and the second in April/May).The purpose of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) is to measure student achievement in the subject areas of English/language arts, mathematics, science (4th and 6th grade) and social studies (5th and 7th grade).  High school students will take the ISTEP+ science test during the year in which they take biology, regardless of their grade level in school and will take the ISTEP+ math and English/language arts tests during their 10th grade year as requirements for graduation.  ISTEP+ reports student achievement levels according to the Indiana Academic Standards adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education. The ISTEP+ assessment is criterion-referenced and is designed to measure students’ mastery of the standards. Students are not compared to others but are simply striving to answer enough questions correctly to attain a passing score which is set by the state.  Student performance on ISTEP+ is part of school accountability measures required by law. 

Recently-passed state law sets Spring, 2017, as the last time for administering the current ISTEP+ assessment to Indiana students. The new law, however, also requires that a state committee meet during 2016-17 to determine an appropriate test to replace ISTEP+ at these grade levels beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) (Grades 1-8)

Students in grades 1-8 take the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests each fall and spring (and, at teacher option, in winter). This brief computerized assessment (about 40-50 questions each in math, reading, and language skills) creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student’s learning level as the student progresses through the test. The bank of questions has a broad range, and thus, it offers a measure of growth and achievement beyond grade level standards which is extremely helpful for teachers with high performing students to determine whether their students are adequately challenged by instruction.  NWEA is a growth-based assessment and provides national norms and expectations for typical learner growth in a year of instruction.  Scores are used to determine readiness levels for learning various concepts and student growth percentiles.

Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) (Grades 1 and 3) 

The OLSAT is given to students in grades 1 and 3. This test is given orally to 1st graders and on the computer to 3rd graders and assesses cognitive abilities correlating to school success similar to an IQ test of aptitude in verbal and nonverbal skills.  Scores are one of the measures used in the state-required high ability identification process and are normed based upon a child’s age in months rather than grade level in school.

College Board PSAT/NMSQT (Grades 9-11)

Students in grades 9, 10 and 11 will take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).  Approximately 3.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT each year.  The PSAT/NMSQT provides students a chance for early preparation for the SAT as it measures the same skills, format, directions, and question types.  Additionally, students who take the PSAT/NMSQT receive free access to personalized online college-planning guides and tools driven by their test results which assist them with college major and career exploration. Each student’s Score Report will provide personalized feedback on test performance, ability to see questions answered incorrectly and suggestions to improve academic skills where assistance is still necessary.

Advanced Placement (AP) Assessments (Optional, High School)

Advanced Placement (AP) is a program created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students.  The AP curriculum for each of the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in that field of study. For a high school course to have the AP designation, the course must be audited by the College Board to ascertain that it satisfies the AP curriculum. Students may opt to take the AP examinations for various courses in May. American colleges and universities often grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the examinations which are scored using a 1-5 point system.