Muslims Now Using Standardized Tests – Creating Uniformity in Islamic Education

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in Featured Article | 0 comments

Female student

What is a Standardized Test? A form of  test that requires all test takers to answer the same questions in order to objectively measure a student’s or group of student’s mastery of core curricula concepts. 

 

 How Does this Apply to Islamic Education? Since the establishment of Islamic institutions in North America, administrators have all agonized over the same issue: What to teach? Over the years, Islamic schools across America ended up making individualized decisions on curriculum instead of collaborating to define national benchmarks.  What researchers are finding now is that learning outcomes very tremendously from child to child, school to school, and state to state. While some schools focus heavily on Quranic memorization, other schools prefer to concentrate on the principles of Aqidah, Fiqh, and Akhlaq, while others prefer not to teach Aqidah and Fiqh at all. 

The discrepancy in our children’s education can be attributed to the lack of resources needed by Islamic studies teachers to effectively do their job.   For example, teachers of math, science, and language arts are provided with state and national standards to define clear curricula goals for teachers, students, and parents.  By standardizing the curricula states can ensure that on average every child is learning the same concepts of math, or reading at the same level, or learning the same concepts of social studies regardless of which school they attend or which state they live in. 

A group of professional Islamic educators and scholars (known as the Islamic Studies Standardized Test Committee) recognized this need for the Muslim community and worked together to develop National Islamic Studies Standards.  The establishment of standards will help to ensure that students are being given a comprehensive Islamic education focusing on the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social dimensions of the religion.  This holistic approach will ensure that concepts being taught are age appropriate, follow a logical sequence and adhere to a building approach where new knowledge is built on prior knowledge – so that by the time a child reaches eighth grade she will have acquired the basic principles of Islam to help her establish a strong foundation in her faith and build a well-rounded Muslim identity.     

To ensure uniformity among schools and equality among student learning the committee established the first of its kind national assessment for Islamic curricula.  The Islamic Studies Standardized Tests (ISST) is a criterion referenced instrument designed to provide schools with data on a student’s ability to master concepts within four major subjects:

    • Quranic Studies
    • Sirah and Hadith
    • Aqidah, Fiqh, and Akhlaq
    • Islamic History

 

  What are the Other Benefits of Standardized Tests?

A standardized assessment can provide invaluable data on student achievement, instructional methods, and resources.  Participating schools will receive three essential reports that provide data in terms of how students perform: individually, as a class, and against other schools across the nation.

 

Data collected from the ISST can help schools:

    • Evaluate curriculum effectiveness
    • Evaluate student achievement
    • Individualize instruction for students with special needs
    • Track student achievement over time
    • Ensure the transferability of students between Islamic Schools
    • Evaluate instructional methods and best practice
    • Achieve national accreditation for Islamic Studies Subjects

 

 Who is using the Tests?

 Tests are designed for students in grades 2 – 8.  Currently the tests have been adopted by over 40 full-time Islamic schools in over 20 states with additional schools participating each year. 

 

How can our school participate?

To learn more about the development of the ISST, view the National Islamic Studies Standards, or to download an order form – visit: www.isstschools.com

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