January 12, 2017

Legislation Filed To Repeal ISTEP With Yet-To-Be Decided Replacement Test

Indiana House Bill 1003 - Indiana General Assembly

Indiana House Bill 1003

Indiana General Assembly

Proposed legislation from the Indiana House’s top education lawmaker would end the state’s controversial ISTEP+ exam in 2018 and pave the way for a yet-to-be determined replacement.

This may sound familiar.

Last year, lawmakers voted to eliminate the assessment following outcry from teachers, parents and lawmakers over the length, makeup and roll out of the test.

The hope was a new exam could be in place soon. But lawmakers said this month it could take two years to create it.

Now they and Indiana’s education leaders have to figure out what new test will take its place as they debate House Bill 1003.

The bill calls for a new statewide assessment program named ILEARN -- Indiana's Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network -- to replace ISTEP in spring 2019.

It could be designed from scratch or be a so-called “off the shelf” test purchased and adapted for Indiana's academic standards. 

ILEARN is described as a “system that is student centered and provides meaningful and timely information to all stakeholders on both a student's on grade proficiency level and the student's growth toward Indiana's college and career education standards…,” according to the bill written by House's education policy leader, Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis.

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick said the current ISTEP+ will remain in use this spring and in 2018. She said state leaders must have courage to to consider all options in replacing it.

“Everything's on the table right now with that review. I know the legislators are anxious. We're having conversation with them,” she said Wednesday. “It's been very open at this point. So that's very promising. But we'll move forward with the (current) assessment. No decision has been made as far as what that next step will be.”

A panel convened by lawmakers to offer suggestions on the new assessment gave general suggestions in a late November report. Among those were a shorter test and quicker turnaround of results.

McCormick said her office will address complaints about the administration of this year’s ISTEP+ related to preparation for local schools and communication about the online exam from the Department of Education.

“I'm not as concerned about the actual test itself,” she said about using the current ISTEP. “Obviously it was long. There are issues like that that people have concerns about. But as far as the actual test itself...we're going to move forward.”

The British-owned Pearson is administrating the ISTEP+ as part of a $38 million two-year contract.

A hearing HB 1003 in the House Education committee has not been scheduled.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.


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