$22,000 to fund ISTEP exam consultation



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Newly-elected Superintended for the state of Indiana Glenda Ritz addresses attendees of the Democratic watch party in downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Chet Strange Buy Photos

Gov. Mike Pence named Edward Roeber as the consultant who will review and make recommendations for shortening the 2015 Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress — ISTEP — Tuesday.

The announcement came one day after Pence signed an executive order to shorten the test, which would otherwise have doubled in length this year for Indiana students. Roeber will review the exam and make recommendations to the Office of the Governor, the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Board of Education.

“Hoosier families can be assured that we will shorten this test,” Pence said in a press release. “With more than four decades devoted to educational assessment, Roeber is a nationally recognized consultant who has the depth of knowledge and experience necessary to conduct a thorough and efficient review of Indiana’s 2015 ISTEP test.”

The maximum cost for Roeber’s contract, effective Monday, is $22,000. The contract identifies two phases of work, each valued at $11,000.

The first, to be completed by Feb. 20, is for initial analysis and recommendations for spring 2015, and the second, from February until the end of this year, is to continue consultation for the spring 2016 assessment.

According to the State of Indiana website, if executive action had not been taken to shorten the exam, Indiana schools would have been expected to experience a significant increase in testing time this March because a pilot exam was not administered by the Indiana DOE in either May or September 2014.

This has created tension between Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Pence Administration.

“Doubling the length of the 2015 ISTEP test is unacceptable and requires an immediate solution,” Pence said in his executive order. “As soon as I learned of this issue, I vowed to support efforts to shorten the test while preserving the accountability that Hoosier students and families deserve.”

Pence’s executive order came in the same week that the Indiana legislature is voting to remove Ritz from her position as chairperson of the State Board of Education. The bill, House Bill 1609, passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday in a 58-40 vote.

The Indiana Republican Party said Ritz “dropped the ball,” in an email to the Indiana Daily Student.

“The tension between the State Board of Education and Ritz’s office had led to embarrassing dysfunction, and it’s time for change,” the email said.

On Friday, Ritz said she would hope to see altered testing. Performance-based standards, rather than test-based, would better determine the value of a child’s education, she said.

“Standards are huge in preparing students for college,” Ritz said. “And all students are going to need post-secondary work for their careers.”

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