Indiana Daily Student

Teacher association requests delay in accountability standards

Teachers and schools start teaching to a new set of academic standards and a new standardized test this year, and some educators are asking for a year to adjust.

Indiana withdrew from the national Common Core standards in March. New academic standards were approved by the State Board of Education at the end of April, according to the Indiana Department of Education website.

The state is also rolling out a new version of the ISTEP in spring 2015, which teachers would prepare students for during the current school year.

Some educators, like those in the Indiana State Teacher’s Association , think Indiana would benefit from collecting data from the new test and standards for one year while using different data for teacher evaluations.

“Still do the tests, still collect the data, but give us some time to see how this is going to play this first year and in the decisions that we make,” ISTA President Teresa Meredith said. “[The standards] are not hugely different, but they’re different enough that teachers have to familiarize themselves with the new standards and the timeline in which standards are being taught.”

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan published a blog post Aug. 21, which was republished on the USDOE website, saying he wanted to allow states more flexibility as they transition to new academic standards.

Duncan announced in the post that states will have the option of requesting a delay in tying test results to teacher evaluations.

ISTA delivered a letter to Gov. Mike Pence on Aug. 26, asking him to submit a request for a delay, Meredith said.

However, Pence released a letter to Duncan two months ago, shortly after the new standards were approved. In it, Pence stated he doesn’t want to pause accountability for Indiana schools and teachers.

“Testing gives us an accurate picture of how our students are doing and what help they need in the classroom,” he said. “Indiana will not go backwards when it comes to measuring performance in our schools on my watch.”

Meredith said she thinks it would put some teachers’ fears to rest if they knew their first year of teaching the new standards was important, but not a dealbreaker.

“I think it could be as simple as asking schools to submit a plan,” she said. “How do they plan to include data in their teacher evaluations in the next year while this statewide data is on pause?”

Pence said he believes state policies such as the A to F grading system and teacher evaluations are necessary to ensure quality schools.

“It is our full intent to plot a measured and thoughtful course as we transition to a new state test with new expected performance levels,” Pence said in the letter. “We are confident that our state can implement the more rigorous standards while also accounting for any temporary impact on testing scores in a way that does not unfairly affect students, teachers and schools.”

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