With the beginning of the legislative session just weeks away, legislators are beginning to work on bills they will introduce. One piece of legislation that Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), head of the House Education Committee, will introduce the first day of the session would remove teacher accountability from ISTEP+ scores.
“The goal is to, because of the problems we’ve had with the administration and the grading of ISTEP+, decouple teacher evaluations from any use of ISTEP+ scores this year,” Behning says.
Behning says after introduction, the bill will move immediately to committee and then the Senate, where he says President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) has promised to move it through quickly. Because it will be fast-tracked, Behning says he expects the bill to reach the governor’s desk for signature by late January, after which it would be effective immediately.
He says “there is no question it will pass,” because of strong support for the bill among legislators.
Although the specifics of a teacher evaluation rubric is locally created, Behning says the legislation will remove ISTEP+ scores from the calculation completely.
Although this bill would remove any consequences of low scores for teachers, schools could still be negatively affected by low scores.
As we reported earlier this month, low scores on this year’s ISTEP+ led to a huge dip in projected A-F grades for schools. The amount of schools that would receive a D or F increased to 36 percent, up from 10 percent the year prior. Having that many schools labeled “low performing” would create a huge burden for both schools and the state.
Behning says the legislature will take a deeper look at how they can address this issue.
“There will be another bill, which will be dealing with accountability and how we look at the grades,” he says. “It would be like a transition year adjustment, so whether we go and do an average of several years or what we haven’t fully decided.”
School accountability is more complicated and holds serious consequences, so Behning says they won’t fast-track that bill and will take their time studying it.
The 2016 legislative session begins Jan. 5.