New ISA assessment to be piloted by students

On February 15, a group of students in grade 4 and 8 will trial the ISA. The administration will then review the assessment to decide whether or not to adopt it permanently.
Photo by Alexis Lien

After discontinuing the Writing Assessment Program (WrAP test) earlier this school year, the Academic Leadership Team (ALT) is piloting a new external writing assessment, the International Schools Assessment (ISA). On February 15, a total of 50 students, including one grade 4 class and a small group of grade 8 students will be taking the ISA. 

The ISA is distributed by the Australian Council for Educational Research and is taken by international schools all around the world. It is available in reading, science, math, and writing. However, ASL students will only take part in writing, as the MAP test that students already take covers both math and reading.  

The main purpose of the ISA is to give the school and teachers overall information regarding the writing program at ASL. The results are also used by parents to compare their children to international norms. 

However Ms. Robyn Chapel, the Director of Teaching and Learning said, “I don’t think that students need to pay very much attention to [the ISA]. It’s one day, 40 minutes; we don’t want students to worry about external assessments.”

After February 15, the ALT will look at several different factors to determine whether or not to adopt the ISA permanently. One of the most important aspects is reliability and consistency. Once the results are returned to the school, teachers will compare the results of individual students to previous tests and assessments the student has taken. This can help show whether or not the grading system is reliable.

During the test, students will be given a prompt to address in their essay. The students will brainstorm ideas orally with their class for ten minutes before writing their essay for thirty minutes. The entire test will take only forty minutes, making it more appealing by not taking much class time.

The ISA can either be administered solely online or on paper. The ALT decided it would be easiest for the older grades to do it online. However, that requires students as young as grade 4 to take the assessment on their computers. Since the ISA is a writing assessment, one of the concerns is whether or not students in grade 4 have advanced enough keyboard skills to complete the assessment. 

One of the benefits of the ISA is it’s part of the PISA study. Every three years the PISA study compares students internationally. By being involved in this study, ASL students as well as the school as a whole can see how they stand compared to the rest of the world. 

Ms. Chapel said, “[The ISA] allows us to look at how our students are doing in writing overall and what we need to work on. This is a check on the quality of our writing program and how we’re doing teaching students to write.

About Willa Blair ('23)

News Editor 2018-19

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