ILEARN is the newest statewide test to measure the achievement and growth of Indiana’s students, but it has received mixed results from people in the education field. It began in the 2018-2019 school year.
“We don’t believe our students and their performance can be minimized to a single test score,” said Dr. Markay Winston, assistant superintendent ofCurriculum & Instruction at Monroe County Community School Corporation.
Educators expressed concerns about using tests to judge students and teachers and putting young students under unneeded stress.
These were addressed in a letter from Dr. Judith A. DeMuth, the superintendent of the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The letter expressed her qualms with the tests, of which there were many.
“Unfortunately, the goal to make public school children and schools look bad continues and what is worse, it is on the backs of these families as taxpayers,” the letter said. “The continual pressure of testing for our children and staff is taking a toll.”
She said it was time to stop making the ILEARN scores public so the schools and their students are not misrepresented, not assigned a grade and give the money used for the test to teachers and staff instead.
Wilson said teachers want to use their time differently.
“This experience of testing was very time consuming, it’s taking a lot of time away from teaching,” Wilson said. “One of the challenges is that the teachers would rather be spending their time focusing on instruction.”
These ideas are reflected across educators-in-training as well.
“It’s kind of depressing to see a third grader get stressed and worry about the tests,” said Wesley Clifford, a sophomore in the School of Education. “Standardized testing in general is a good idea, but not if you overuse it.”
Clifford said using tests to track the growth of students and their needs can be beneficial, but the way that it is being carried out is what makes ILEARN so criticized.
“If you want a teacher to be judged, you can’t judge the merit of someone on other people,” Clifford said. “There are too many factors going on with students.”
He said in their education classes they look at both the upsides and downsides of standardized testing, but a majority of his education peers highly disapprove of standardized testing.
“When we take a look at outcomes of ILEARN, there are lots of challenges and concerns being voiced,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, we want to focus on what we do well for our children.”