Maybe the first place for educators to start is with thinking about the “Why” of testing. I-Excel (and other above-level tests such as the ACT) provide a way of discovering high-ability students who need additional challenges. Above-level tests provide important information and help us make decisions about the types of programming our talented students need.
In a previous blog, we talked about how above-level testing works. Our focus here is on the steps educators can take to set up testing and what happens next. The purpose is to discover high-performing students and match the curriculum and programming to their needs.
Students who perform well on grade-level tests (such as the Iowa Assessments) are good candidates to begin this process. Educators may take the following steps:
- Identify 4th-6th graders scoring at the 95th percentile or above on at least one section of the Iowa Assessments.
- Contact the Belin-Blank Center to set up a testing date.
- Invite them to participate in above-level testing using I-Excel.
- Administer I-Excel during a school day or on the weekend (depending on what works best for your situation).
- Receive detailed interpretation from the Belin-Blank Center. The Aggregate Report compiles information from your group of students to help you make decisions about placement changes and adjustments to the curriculum. The Individual Report (which can be shared with parents) provides detailed information about students’ strengths in math, science, English and reading and helps you make data-driven decisions about individual students’ academic needs.
- Make decisions about the students’ educational placement and curriculum. Some students’ test data will inform you that they are in need of academic enrichment, while other students’ data will indicate their readiness for more accelerated work.
What happens to the students as a result of this information? Your school district may already have a variety of opportunities for these students (enrichment programs, accelerated courses, honors courses, etc.). I-Excel might be used to help educators make decisions about which students would benefit from an accelerative math program or a literature-based enrichment program that is already in place or is being developed. Iowa educators might consider the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA), which provides online courses during the school day. What makes the IOAPA courses so successful (a 95% completion rate!) is the partnership between the Belin-Blank Center and the local school. IOAPA provides access to the curriculum and the school provides a local mentor who monitors and encourages the student.
The outcome of participation in I-Excel testing? Students and parents who are better informed about students’ academic strengths, and educators who confidently provide curriculum tailored to those strengths. Making data-based, objective decisions results in students who are consistently challenged in school. If you’re ready to get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org.