On March 17th, ERB’s Vice President of Admission Testing, Elizabeth Mangas, sent an email to independent school admission directors across the country. The email announced a radical new testing policy for the ISEE:
Starting in August 2016, test takers of all levels will be able to take the ISEE up to three times during a single admission cycle (see the original email below). In previous years, ERB permitted students to take the ISEE once per academic year.
ERB’s ISEE team values our relationships with member schools above all else. The ISEE’s mission is to provide valid scores and outstanding service to help your admission team find your students and build your community.
To enhance ISEE’s usefulness to schools and families alike, we are introducing a new option in August 2016: multiple testing. All students will have the option to test once in each of three four-month-long testing windows; in other words, students may test up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle.
In making this change, we are responding to input from ERB member schools, parents, and students. This input has highlighted three important pieces of information:
- First, there is increased anxiety among young students about taking a single admission test.
- Secondly, reducing the sources of score variability potentially introduced in a single testing environment (due, for example, to things such as a test taker’s health) improves the measurement of the skills tested
- Finally, families want to see more than one ISEE score report to help them determine which schools may be a good academic fit for their child.
The new option for multiple testing addresses all of these factors. Additionally, ERB will make enough fee waivers available to ensure that every student has the same opportunity to use the multiple testing option. We will be sharing more information in the coming weeks. Should you be interested in additional details before then, we have compiled a list of anticipated questions and answers.
In a few weeks, you will receive an email from ISEE with the Test Site Application for 2016-2017. As always, ERB member schools may offer the ISEE on their choice of date(s). When your school is an ISEE test site, you offer applicant families an excellent opportunity to visit your school and meet your staff. ERB partners with you on this commitment through our proctor reimbursement program. We are most grateful to our membership for making this service available and welcome members to consider or continue being an ISEE test site. Whether providing the ISEE in a paper or online modality, ERB offers personalized service and support every step of the way to both your school and your applicants.
Please keep an eye out for an email with the 2016-2017 ISEE Test Site Application. In the meantime, please be in touch with questions or comments about our new multiple testing option.
We look forward to hearing from you and continuing our relationship in the coming academic year.
To preempt the tidal wave of follow-up questions to the announcement, ERB released an FAQ for admission officers, which you can review here. I have included some of the more illuminating questions and answers below:
Students can take the ISEE during three testing windows – Fall (August–November); Winter (December–March); and Spring/Summer (April–July). Students may take the test only once per window, or up to a maximum of 3 times in a 12-month admission cycle. For entrance to an independent school in Fall 2017, for instance, a student could take the test in the Fall 2016 window to assess which school might be a good academic fit. He or she could then take the test in the Winter window for a score report that would be sent to a school or schools. The ISEE does not encourage multiple testing, but we do offer students and families that option. We have introduced this option to decrease test anxiety and make the ISEE a more useful assessment tool for parents and placement counselors who want to find the best academic fit for a student. We encourage testing only as often as is beneficial for each student’s admission prospects. The number of times a student takes the ISEE is a decision that should be made by parents in consultation with a placement counselor, an admission officer, and/or ISEE staff.
The ISEE has a long and unique history of providing clear reporting and exceptional service to ERB member schools. Multiple testing is designed to make the scores admission officers receive the best possible reflection of a student’s ability and academic potential to succeed in your school community. We expect schools to receive one score report in most cases. In the event that a child’s application includes multiple reports, the scores are likely to show improvement from one testing window to another. That is useful information in measuring a student’s ability to learn and adapt. If admission officers receive multiple scores for an individual student, they may wish to inquire with the student and the family the reason for the additional testing. For example, they might learn that the student had been ill during a test administration.
Our aim is to help you find your students and build your community. ISEE has introduced multiple testing to ensure that a child’s scores are the best possible reflection of his or her ability and academic potential and to improve your ability to admit students who are the best fit for your school. Whether a child takes the test once or more than once, the scores you see will capture a clear picture of how a student performed on that test date. If parents choose to submit multiple reports, you will see how much a child improved over a period of time. If you see one report, it is probably from a date when a student felt that he or she had performed well. As always, your trained eye will be able to discern whether a child’s ISEE score marries with his or her grades and teacher recommendations. To ensure a fair playing field from a financial perspective, ERB will give another fee waiver to a family in need whose child wishes to test again. If you have any questions about score interpretation, our customer support staff is available to help. Please contact the ISEE Operations office at 1-800-446-0320.
Our August 2016 introduction of a multiple testing option is the result of significant input, planning, and preparation. As an independent school admission officer, you know that parent demand for options is stronger than ever – not only for increased test dates, but also for more chances for their child to do his or her best on an admission test. In this case, responding to parent concerns made sense for ISEE, because it better serves our schools as well. Score reports will show a child’s best performance – removing test anxiety and other factors that might skew results. As always, every child will have the same chance to succeed. We will still provide fee waivers, even for multiple testing. Moreover, families will have less anxiety about their child taking a high-stakes test when they know their child can take it again if needed. We are assuring parents whose child or children tested before this option was available that all the students who took the test at the same time as their child had the same chance to perform at their best. These students were permitted to take one test, one time.
If you have more questions about the ‘ins and outs’ of the ISEE, the concepts it covers, and how it is administered, please check out our comprehensive blog post on the subject.
If you would prefer more individual guidance or information about test preparation, please contact a Compass Director in our offices.