Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the IPT?
IPT stands for Integrated Performance Task. IPTs are performance tasks involving real-life problems and related documents that the student must analyze before writing responses to a few open-ended questions known as prompts.
Q: Where do IPTs come from?
The IPTs are developed by the VBCPS Office of Student Assessment and highly-qualified teachers. Each IPT is modeled after the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA), a nationally normed performance task for high school and college students. The CWRA has been administered at every VBCPS high school since 2010.
Q: What is the purpose of the IPT? How are IPT results used?
The fall IPT is a low-stakes, diagnostic assessment. The purposes of the fall IPT are to familiarize students with a new type of assessment and provide teachers with information about their students' abilities in critical thinking, problem solving and written communication. The fall IPT results will allow teachers and schools to make instructional decisions. Because it is a diagnostic assessment, parents will not receive fall IPT results.
Q: What is the purpose of the IPT? How are IPT results used?
The spring IPT is a summative assessment that will provide parents and teachers information about each student’s performance on an assessment designed to measure critical thinking, problem solving and written communication. Similar to the fall IPT, the spring IPT results will allow schools to evaluate instructional effectiveness and make modifications. In addition, VBCPS will use the aggregate results of the spring IPT to determine if the division is effectively teaching and assessing some of the skills our students need to thrive as 21st century learners, workers and citizens, as specified by the VBCPS strategic plan, Compass to 2015.
Q: Who is required to take the IPT?
All students who take classroom assessments (including students with allowable accommodations) in grades four and seven at every elementary school and middle school are administered an IPT in the fall and again in the spring. Students in grades four and seven take different age-appropriate IPTs.
Q: Does the IPT really assess a student's critical-thinking skills?
To help answer this question, approximately 600 VBCPS students in grades 4 and 7 were administered a nationally-normed test of critical thinking, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test, around the same time they took the IPT. The scores of both tests were then analyzed. Results suggested that the IPT is an appropriate measure of critical-thinking skills. An executive summary of the results is at Validation Study of the Integrated Performance Task. For a more in-depth look, view the full report IPT Research Brief.
Q: What do students have to do when they take the IPT?
Each IPT situation involves a decision that the student must make based primarily upon relevant information in the documents. While they are taking the IPT, students are asked to evaluate the credibility of information, decide if any additional information is needed, compare the pros and cons of different alternatives, make a final decision and provide reasons that support their decision.
Fourth-grade students are given an IPT booklet with a situation and three documents, which are read aloud by the teacher while the students follow along. The seventh-grade booklet includes a situation and four documents but only the situation is read aloud by the teacher. At any time during the IPT, students are allowed to ask their teacher to read or reread a word, phrase or sentence aloud. Glossaries provide student-friendly definitions for many of the terms used in the booklets.
Students have up to 90 minutes to read, reread and analyze the information in the IPT booklet and respond to the prompts. All students (except those with documented accommodations) must type their final answers to each prompt on the computer. Students are given the option of writing an outline or rough draft in the booklet first or composing and editing their responses entirely on the computer. More and more large-scale tests are being administered online and the IPT provides students with additional opportunities to take an online assessment.
Q: When is the IPT administered? When are make-ups for students who miss the IPT administration?
The fall IPT is administered during a window beginning in late September and ending in October. The spring IPT is administered during a three-week window beginning in March of each year. Each school determines the dates within the window that the IPT will be given to each class. Make-up sessions must be offered within the IPT window for all students who missed their scheduled assessment time.
Q: What accommodations are allowed on the IPT for students with disabilities (SWD) and limited English proficient (LEP) students?
Students should participate in the IPT according to their documented educational plans. Special sessions will be arranged for students who require specific accommodations.
Q: When will spring IPT results be available?
The results of the spring IPT will be made available to elementary and middle schools in September of each year. Individual student results will be posted on the VBCPS Parent Portal.
Q: Why does it take so long to receive the spring IPT results?
Unlike the fall IPT, which is scored locally by teachers at each school, the spring IPT is scored centrally during the summer by a trained cadre of select teachers. There are over 10,000 fourth- and seventh-grade students in Virginia Beach. Each response is scored by two teachers. Before scoring the IPT responses, every member of the scoring cadre receives extensive training so that the results are consistent across scorers.
Q: How will the spring IPT results inform teachers and parents about individual students?
The results of a single assessment or test should always be interpreted carefully. A 90-minute assessment provides a “snapshot” of a student’s ability for that moment in time. Just as some photos or pictures are not accurate portrayals of what a person actually looks like, the results of a single IPT don’t always provide a clear representation of a student’s abilities. Teachers should use many sources of information about students to determine their strengths as well as areas that need improvement. Parents should realize that the results of the IPT are only one indication of a student’s abilities in critical thinking, problem solving and/or written communication. Because the IPT is a relatively new type of assessment, many students are not accustomed to its format. It will take time to move all VBCPS students toward mastery. The spring IPT results will include information for teachers and parents that explains the scoring of the IPT and its implications.
Q: Does the IPT count as a grade?
No, IPT scores will not count as grades for students but the results are expected to lead to improvements in instruction and learning in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving and written communication at all schools. These are three student outcomes specified by the VBCPS strategic plan, Compass to 2015.
Q: Who are the primary contact persons for the IPT at each school?
The school improvement specialist is the school’s primary IPT contact for middle schools. At the elementary school level, the assistant principal is the primary contact unless the principal has designated another staff member.