State helps lead way as online ISTEP goes viral

During the past four years, students throughout the state have less often needed paper and pencils when taking achievement tests.

Indiana first started offering the multiple-choice portion of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus exam online in 2009, and between 1 percent and 3 percent of the state’s students took the online exam, assistant superintendent for technology John Keller said.

Then two things happened: The state began requiring online testing for students in the upper grades, and more schools started looking on their own for different ways to use computers, tablets and the Internet in classrooms.

As schools, including those in Johnson County, started adding computers and increasing Internet capacity, it became easier to meet and exceed the state’s online ISTEP requirement, Keller said.

Last spring, about 70 percent of Indiana students who took the multiple-choice portion of ISTEP took the exam online, and next year nearly all students taking ISTEP will take that section online. That puts Indiana third in the nation for online testing, behind Oregon and Virginia, which already test nearly all students online, Keller said.

In the future, giving state exams online could mean faster results once Indiana becomes more experienced with how to best grade the online exams. The state also could save money because it no longer would have to box up and transport paper tests to schools, Keller said.

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