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ISTEP+ and IMAST and ISTAR, oh my!

Indiana Department of Educaiton
Indiana Department of Educaiton

It is testing time in Indiana! This is always a confusing time of year for parents of children with special needs, as many parents are completely confused about which test their child should be taking. However, this year promises to be a whole new can of worms as a new test has been approved for administration in Indiana schools.

This new test is called Indiana Modified Achievement Standards Test (IMAST), and it is ready for administration to qualified students this spring. The IMAST is a test designed for a student who is accessing the general education curriculum for his grade, but whose disability is preventing him from achieving “proficiency” on the ISTEP+.

Two common questions this time of year are “What test should my child take?” and “Can he have accommodations on the exam?” The following will attempt to guide parents through these exams.

ISTEP+ is the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus, and it measures what students know at each academic grade level. This test is designed to ensure that students are moving along in their curriculum appropriately, and if not, to signal that a student might need extra help. The test is given to all students, with the exception of students who are to take the ISTAR or the IMAST.

The test is given in the spring, and has an essay and a multiple choice portion. Students receive a score of Pass+, Pass, or Did Not Pass.

Accommodations are available for students to take the ISTEP+, but those accommodations must be designated in a student’s IEP, 504 plan, or ILP. Accommodations, which “level the playing field” for students, are NOT the same as modifications, which change the content being tested. Common accommodations include additional testing time, use of a scribe or interpreter, use of a word processing program.

IMAST is a test designed for students who are accessing the general education curriculum but are finding that their disabilities interfere with their success on the ISTEP+.

This test is in lieu of ISTEP+, meaning that students take the IMAST instead.

The test is designed for students who (1) receive special education services because of the presence of a disability, (2) meaningfully access curriculum for the enrolled grade, but are not likely to reach grade-level proficiency in the same time frame as other students, and (3) are expected to earn a high school diploma, either through GQE proficiency or through a waiver or appeal. The eligibility of a student to take the IMAST is determined by a Case Conference Committee.

ISTAR is the Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting, and it is designed for students who achieve so significantly above or below grade level that the ISTEP+ cannot adequately measure their progress.

This test is also in lieu of ISTEP+.

ISTAR uses a rubric from teacher observations to identify a student’s baseline abilities, including grade level and individual progress from one year to another. Teachers may include evidence of performance with an ISTAR evaluation.

The ISTAR may be administered to a child receiving special education if (1) the child has a severe disability that prevents the child from acquiring the skills necessary for a high school diploma, (2) even with intensive assistance, the child is unable to retain or apply academic skills, and (3) the child’s IEP goals illustrate that the child is working to acquire functional skills, including basic self-help and communication skills.]



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