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Deptartment of Education Working on New ISTEP Test

The school year continues over the summer for the Department of Education, which is working to develop a new ISTEP that will only be used for one school year.

The standardized test given to all students in grades three through eight has to be re-tooled to reflect the new academic standards approved this year by the State Board of Education.  Those standards replace Common Core, with the replacement mandated by the General Assembly.  Last month, the office of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz told the board that a new ISTEP would have to be given next school year to test on the new standards; otherwise, the state could lose its waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements.  

Ritz said at the most recent board meeting that she would seek a one-year waiver of A-to-F grades for schools, fearing a drop in ISTEP scores since the exam will be given roughly seven months after the new standards are taught for the first time.  The head of the state's largest teacher's union agrees. "Should we be grading schools on a test that we don't know a lot about, or should we hold off on that, meet the federal mandate, and look at the data and prepare for the following year," said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

It isn't clear whether the A-F grades can be suspended for a year under state law, but board member Brad Oliver doesn't believe it should happen.  "I have a lot of faith in our professional educators in this state to be highly effective in their instruction," Oliver said. "We have given them the standards, so if we apply a period of instruction, I think it is reasonable for us to give an aligned assessment that will give us valuable information about our students, our teachers and our schools."

The board will consider the re-tooled ISTEP even as it considers bids from several companies to provide a new assessment for students that will begin with the 2015-16 school year.

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