Idaho Students To Take A New Common Core Exam This Year, But It Doesn't Count

Jun 21, 2013

A Nampa elementary student works on a classroom computer. Idaho students already take their state assessment, the ISAT, on computers but the new Common Core linked exam will be much more high tech. It will use computer adaptive technology which will tailor question difficulty to how a student answered previous questions.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This week the U.S. Department of Education offered states an extension on including tests tied to the new Common Core state standards in teacher evaluations. Idaho won’t take that extension. The state is actually moving up some of its Common Core testing.

Remember in school when you'd have to take a practice test before the real one? That's a lot like what's happening with Common Core testing in Idaho. In the spring of 2015 teachers will give a test currently being developed by a multi-state consortium. How they get evaluated will be pegged to the results. So this coming school year, the state will do a practice test with students.

But creation of this test won't be finished by then. So it won't count for the official things the state and federal governments test for, such as identifying struggling schools and tracking student progress. Melissa McGrath with Idaho’s Department of Education says the state won’t give what's known as the ISAT next year, the test they’ve been using to get all that required data.

“The real challenge in the transition and what teachers asked the state to avoid at all costs is double testing students,” McGrath says. “They did not want students to have to take the ISAT and then also the field test of the new assessment.”

With no ISAT and only a partially finished Common Core test, some things that happen annually won’t happen in the 2013-2014 school year. Take, for instance the state’s five star school rating system. The ratings handed out this August will be on the books for two years. One star schools will stay under intense scrutiny for those two years before they can demonstrate improvement. But McGrath says it’s worth it to give students and teachers time to get used to the new test. 

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio