House Bill 1003 sets basic guidelines for the State Board of Education to design or purchase an ISTEP replacement for 2019. The bill passed out of the House Education committee Thursday but not without attempts to drastically change it.
An amendment by Indianapolis Democrat Ed DeLaney sought to stop students from taking the ISTEP. Despite concerns over its effectiveness, state education officials and lawmakers agree that the ISTEP will be used as the assessment for Spring 2017 and Spring 2018.
DeLaney’s amendment sought to have local school districts choose their own assessment — such as PARCC or another “off-the-shelf” exam — instead of a single statewide test. Results of those assessments, he said, could be compared to other states and help gauge where Indiana students stand academically.
House Education Committee chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, countered that the ISTEP, even flawed, is a helpful measure of the achievement gap of poor and minority students.
In addition, he said, that would make it impossible for Indiana schools to be compared to each other if districts chose different exams.
“Telling me it is good for poor kids to take a test that nobody believes in, and therefore we should make everybody, including the poor kids take the test, doesn’t make sense,” DeLaney responded.
DeLaney also said new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should grant Indiana a waiver from administering the ISTEP this year.
But the new federal education guidelines, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, don’t allow states to seek a waiver from administering a standardized assessment.
The amendment was struck down. House Bill 1003 passed 10-2 and now heads to the full House. If the legislation becomes law, ISTEP would be replaced with ILEARN — a new assessment intended to be designed in part by recommendations from a panel of educators.