January 20, 2016

House Committee Begins Discussion On Re-scoring 2015 ISTEP

The legislature continues to discuss the 2015 ISTEP+ administration and scoring.  - Doug Jaggers

The legislature continues to discuss the 2015 ISTEP+ administration and scoring.

Doug Jaggers

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Hou­se Education Committee took a first look at a bill that calls for a re-score of the 2015 ISTEP+ assessment Tuesday. HB 1395, among other things, calls for an outside group to rescore last year’s test.

In this past year, Indiana’s test vendor, CTB, came under scrutiny for their administration and scoring of the test. This summer, the company told the State Board of Education there were issues with grading the assessment and scores wouldn’t be released for a few months.

The 2015 ISTEP+ scores came out Jan. 5. The scores statewide dropped around 20 percent overall, which is something many expected. When many other states shifted to a new assessment they saw their scores dip as well, so legislative leaders say this decline is a result of a new test and tougher standards, not a reflection on student learning.

After initially suggesting a complete re-score, House Education  Committee Chair  Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, proposed a partial re-score of a sampling of tests. This would take less time and be much less expensive. Initial price estimates of a complete re-score process came in between $8 and $10 million.

Behning says it is important to double check at least a few thousand tests because, moving forward, Indiana’s A-F accountability system will weigh student growth more heavily. The new accountability system will use growth as a factor, so schools will be rewarded for their students who do better on the test, even if it’s not at the highest level.

Because of this, Behning says having a correct baseline to compare to next year’s scores would ensure we award the right amount of growth points.

Behning says it’s also important to take some sort of action because there is so much doubt around the test right now.

“I met with many superintendents over the last several days and every one of them says please re-score,” Behning said.

While Republican leaders are in favor of the bill and some sort of re-score process, the Department of Education is urging against re-scoring the test.

DOE spokesperson Daniel Altman says the DOE has done its due diligence in ensuring the test’s accuracy, through a number of assurance processes, and an expense rescore process isn’t needed.

“Right now the data that we have doesn’t indicate that that’s necessary,” Altman said.

Ed Roeber, a testing expert who has served as a consultant for the governor and State Board of Education, wrote a letter to the General Assembly dated Monday urging against the full rescore. He said if the state wants to rescore, a small sampling of tests would be valuable and more cost effective than doing them all.

“While this plan involves more steps than simply rescoring all responses to every prompt, it has the potential to answer the questions about accuracy of hand scoring without attendant expense of scoring all responses,” Roeber wrote. “Thus, I believe you will achieve your objective of checking on the accuracy of the scoring at lower cost.”

Right now, Behning’s bill does not include a plan for how Indiana would pay for the re-score, whether it would come from taxpayer dollars or CTB would pay for it.

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