Are ISATs Beneficial?


David Tesch, Editor-in-Chief

It’s that time of year again in school, where students of different grades take standardized tests. These tests could be AP, SAT, or ISAT. 

The Idaho Standards Achievement Test, also known as the ISATs, is a standards test required to be taken by sophomores and juniors with sophomores taking a Math and English ISAT, and juniors taking the Science ISAT. 

ISATs have been a requirement for students who attended the Lakeland school district since elementary school, having to take the ISATs every year in grade school, except 7th-9th grade. 

Lakeland high school principal Trent Derrick says, “I don’t think (ISATs) are important in the standpoint of preparing the students better, but what I think it does is allow them to look at the education they are getting, being able to say how prepared am I for different tests ill be taking.”

English teacher Shannon Hall has been teaching for 28 years and helps prepare her students months in advance for ISATs. 

“As far as the months leading into the ISAT, I teach the common core state standards on which the ISAT test is based, provide multiple opportunities to practice writing skills in order to have success on the performance task of the ISAT,” Hall said. 

Geometry teacher William Ryan has been teaching for 25 years and doesn’t need to go too far off of his curriculum for the ISAT, since the test follows the curriculum he teaches. 

As the ISAT may cover some geometry, it mainly focuses on algebra concepts, which is more of a junior-level test. 

“We are giving it at the sophomore level test, which we scratch our heads at,” Derrick said. 

Science teacher Jennifer Casas relies on the student’s multiple years of learning science in previous classes, then reviews can be done in the days leading up to the ISAT. 

“(ISAT) gives insight into what the State/Community believes students should know before going into the world and workforce as adults, which is interesting,” Casas said. 

As the test is for students, it affects the teachers and administrators more than it affects the students. The ISATs dont go in as a grade for the students, so some decide not to try at all. 

This causes problems for the teachers since these tests are determining how well the students understand the information the teachers should have taught them. If the students don’t try on the ISATs, it could heavily affect state funding for the school. 

“Schools are held accountable for student test scores, but students themselves have no consequences for poor scores.  When students are not held accountable for their own learning, some students will choose not to exert themselves in the slightest.  This is patently unfair,” Hall said. 

There have been other ideas brought up that could make ISATs better, or just completely get rid of the test in general. 

“If it were up to me, the state would remove the ISAT testing requirement.  I believe my own assessments provide much better, more accurate, and more meaningful data of student success than what the state provides,” Hall said. 

Derrick discussed that if it were up to him, to just combine standardized testing altogether. Where students don’t have to take ISATs, SATs, or any other tests like that. It would all be combined into one test they take in their high school careers. 

“Anytime a student is given an assignment, it is a measure of their personal knowledge and abilities… anytime you are given a task we always tell people “do your best”,” Derrick said.