For more than 20 years Idaho’s early elementary students took a “reading” assessment that was no more than a one-minute test of their fluency skills. Less than a year ago kindergarten scores hit an all-time low with their “reading readiness” skills of recognizing letters. Over the years officials heard often from teachers and administrators that reading readiness was not measured by these tests. Finally, officials at the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) listened and recently launched a new K-3 test, the Istation Indicators of Progress (ISIP) Early Reading, renamed the “New Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI).”
The new test measures a student’s performance in six areas of literacy. Assessing or screening for more than just letter recognition for kindergarteners, subtests for this level include listening comprehension, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, in addition to letter knowledge. The first-grade tests add alphabetic decoding, comprehension, and spelling. Second- and third-grade subtests measure vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, and connected text fluency via maze/cloze passages. The new computerized-adaptive test with its game-like appearance additionally serves ENL students and students with disabilities. The SDE requires that children be tested in September and in May, but some teachers like it so well they are using in every month.
According to Idaho Education News, in addition to its accommodations, this new assessment sends immediate results to teachers and administrators as soon as the test is finished. Teachers are also provided specific suggestions based on student needs.
“One of the best features of this new test is that teachers can not only see reports of progress with their access to the test but they can even look at the questions and answers their students chose and can see time spent on each answer,” states Marcia Grabow, Testing and Data Coordinator for Blaine County School District in Hailey. Janet Avery, curriculum director for the Jerome School District said, “We’re able to see growth and trends throughout the year . . . and able to monitor progress that way.” In Twin Falls the new test is being used as an intervention tool as well as an assessment tool.
The implementation of this new IRI will offer teachers a comprehensive picture of their students’ early literacy skills and they can instantly adjust instruction. For students the assessment is an engaging and fun experience they take on an iPad or Chromebook.