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ISTEP changes will be brought to the 2017 General Assembly



Steps are being taken to continue ISTEP, the current statewide assessment of Indiana students.

The Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus (ISTEP+) measures student achievement in the subject areas of English and language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

A 23-person panel of educators and leaders recommended to continue the current ISTEP assessment for another two years.

The plan recommends changes including less testing time, giving results back faster and moving the test to the end of the school year 
in May.

The plan also includes working on a way to have the state fund the test during the day for high school students who may not have the means to take tests including the PSAT, SAT 
and ACT.

Rep. Robert Behning-R, a house education policy leader, said only two people did not support the plan.

“I think everybody was in agreement that that’s probably the best practice in terms of what’s right for kids and teachers,” Behning said. “We don’t want to rush it.”

Behning said Hoosier teachers could play a part in the scoring of the next ISTEP assessment. He said this is part of the recommendation given by the panel.

He said it could provide an opportunity for some developmental growth to see how other students in the state are doing.

Kansas has taken this idea and put it into practice. They encouraged teachers to be a part of the scoring process to further professional development. Behning said they would compensate teachers to be a part of this.

“We wanted to develop a level of confidence in the teachers and the education community in terms of overall assessment.” Behning said.

The plan was discussed and approved before Dec. 1, and now will be given to lawmakers for the 2017 General Assembly.

The assembly is approaching a transition in education leaders including Yorktown superintendent Jennifer McCormick taking office as state superintendent of public instruction January 9. Behning said as a Republican she will hopefully be on board with more of the party’s goals and focus on students.

He said Ritz at times seemed to look at her role in the department as the loyal opposition. He said he does not think McCormick will view that as her role.

“I think Glenda thought herself as being, especially when she was first elected, she felt herself as being the individual who was supposed to try to tenor some of the wills and desires of the governor’s office and the general assembly,” Behning said. “I know that that’s not the role Jennifer sees at all.”

Nicole Fama, chairwoman of the ISTEP review panel, said McCormick wanted the plan to be specific and Fama believes it is.

Fama said the point of the commission and review panel was to say they know they have to test and assess students on grade level. She said they felt the plan they put out was the 
best plan.

“It’s easy to get out into the streets and say ‘We hate testing!’, but the part that continues to be left out is it is required by federal law,” Fama said. “Because if you don’t test them, you don’t know what they know, that’s just the fact.”

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