Benchmark Exam and Iowa Tests Being Combined

March 15, 2006 -- Posted at 5:49 p.m. CST


JONESBORO, AR -- Two testsArkansas students currently take during the spring are the Benchmark Exam and the Iowa Academic Proficiency Test.  Starting next year, those two tests will be combined into one.


The Benchmark Exam is used to make sure students are being taught the correct core curriculum.


The Iowa Test compares the scores of students in the state of Arkansas, to students in other states.


“At the end of the testing season, they are physically exhausted.   As of next year, once they’re combined, the students will not have to spend eight days testing.  It will just be an improvement for them,” said Sherry Mason, an 8th Grade Algebra Teacher at Valley View Junior High School.


It will be an improvement for the students and the teachers.


“The teachers get so stressed out having to prepare us.  They almost get more stressed out than we do,” said 8th Grader Paige Agan.


“It’s taking so many of our teaching days away from us.  When they combine the tests, that’s just helping the children,” said Mason.


“You go through one week of testing, having to study and be prepared, then you have to catch back up on school work.  After that, you have to start getting prepared for the next test.  That just puts on a lot of stress,” said 8th Grader Danielle Childress.


This change will take place during the 2006-2007 school year, granting teachers and their students four more days inside the classroom.


“We are very excited that these tests will be combined.  It will mean less time outside of the class for testing,” said Mason.


“It will make it a whole lot easier.  We can study, get the test over with, and go back to school without worrying about taking another test,” said Childress.


Mason says she’s grateful for this coming change.


“Educators and parents have just complained so much.  We’re in testing season,” said Mason.


And like seasons of the year, the testing season lasts for months at a time.


“It’s very stressful, having to wake up early every day, eating a good breakfast, and making sure you went over everything that’s going to be on the test,” said Childress.


Mrs. Mason said combining the tests will not change the way she teaches her class.  She will still spend the same amount of time preparing her students for testing.


Valley View students have already completed their Benchmark Exams for this school year.  They will face the Iowa Academic Proficiency Test in the coming weeks.